How to File a Legal Separation

A legal separation is an alternative to divorce. It is a legal procedure or agreement between a married couple to be physically away from each other but remaining married. It is pursued by people who have moral or religious objections to the ‘divorce’.

Why do couples get legal separations and not divorce? Other than moral and religious reasons, there are other practical reasons. The couple can be separate to evaluate if they want to end up in a divorce. Some states implement a law of having to be legally separated first before getting the actual divorce.

Legal Separation How to File a Legal Separation

Legal separation helps the individuals address financial concerns and allow them to know how they can handle money matters when apart. It is an informal trial separation. So when the couple decides to pursue a divorce, the separation agreement can be converted to a divorce one. This makes the process faster.

Legally separated couples can also get insurance benefits of the spouse’s coverage.

Personal interests can be protected apart. The legal separation mandates that assets and debts acquired during the period of separation are considered separate property.

There are also possible benefits when the couple continues to file taxes jointly.

Remaining married will qualify the two individuals to certain social security benefits for a spouse up to 10 years. Military benefits for spouses can also be retained.

Legal separation and the agreements should be discussed thoroughly. This will greatly affect further divorce proceedings. A good lawyer who specializes in legal separation will help you go through the step by step process. Let the lawyer look over the agreements and have them explained to you. Here are the steps on how to file a legal separation:

Step 1: Consider if you are going to use the services of an attorney. If not, you and your spouse can simply file papers jointly.

Step 2: Check the residency requirements for your state and make sure you qualify.

Step 3: Think of legal separation as divorce proceedings. This means you must consider provision on child support, possible alimony, custody and visitation, division of property and debts, and other special provisions you may require.

Step 4: The petition for separation will be served to your spouse and he or she will be given an amount of time to respond. However, couples can file the legal separation jointly.

Step 5: Once the terms and provisions of the legal separation have been agreed, notarize with signatures from both individuals.

Step 6: The judge will decide.


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