Why Would a Couple Want a Legal Separation?

October 28, 2014

Legal Separation Lawyer

Under Ohio law, spouses wishing to divorce have multiple options available: divorce, dissolution, and legal separation.  It is important to consider the psychological ramifications of each option, and understand that finding the right family law attorney in Columbus, Ohio will help you find the match that is right for your situation.   Legal separation is the least drastic option, and many find that this solution will fit their needs. 

Legal separation is when the two spouses decide that it is best for them to live apart, but still remain married.  During this time, neither spouse can remarry.  It is important to commit the legal separation to writing so that the rights of each spouse are protected.  In addition to the protected rights, the legal separation serves as a trial period should the couple decide on divorce, and it protects financial interests of both parties. 

Trial Separation Period

Legal separation brings with it a court order that will outline the spousal rights also discussed during divorce proceedings.  This includes, but is not limited to: residential parent and legal guardian, parenting rights, child support, spousal support, division of property, and payment of debts.  If you have children, it is important to outline a safe and steady future while addressing your current needs.  This is why finding the right family law attorney to help with your legal separation is important.   

Divorce is often a last resort for most couples, so separation is the first step.  Often couples separate without a legal agreement and find that they don’t have a plan for joint debts or other legal questions.  When you file a legal separation, then you have already set forth the legal responsibilities for each party.  If, as a couple, you decide that the marriage will work, the trial separation period can be reviewed and a trained family law attorney can help outline your next steps to reunification.

On the other hand, if you do decide there is no chance for reconciliation and you would like to file for divorce, the agreement created for your legal separation will serve as a first draft of your divorce order.  It is important to find an attorney you trust to draft the original legal separation agreement, which is why selecting the right family law attorney in Columbus, Ohio is so important. 

Financial Interests

Many couples have been together and have relied on each other for multiple financial benefits, such as filing taxes jointly and maintaining marital assets.  When you file for a legal separation and consult a family law attorney, he or she will advise you to pay close attention to your financial interests.  Joint accounts, joint property, and other marital property should be accounted for as you start work on the legal separation.

Some benefits that you may not think about include Social Security benefits, health insurance, and military benefits.  Each type of benefit requires you to be married to the recipient of the benefit for a specific amount of time.  Social Security benefits require that you remain married for at least 10 years.  If you were thinking about divorce after 9 years of marriage, it would benefit you to stay legally separated for a year (still legally married) in order to receive the Social Security benefits that would kick in after 10 years.  Again, speaking with an attorney with experience in family law will help to clarify the benefits of a legal separation. 

Religious Reservations

Many couples want to live apart but will not file for divorce because of religious convictions.  Some families prefer to live apart than to deny tenants of their faith, and legal separation is the ideal tool for those families.  Legal separation allows them to protect their financial interests, to set forth their agreement in a court order, and to live apart.  If you feel that you would prefer to remain legally married for yourself and your faith while you and your spouse work through your marital disputes, legal separation may be the best option. 

Before you make a decision, you should speak with an attorney with experience in family law. Meeting with an attorney will give you an opportunity to ask questions about your specific situation and learn what options are available.  A Columbus, Ohio family law attorney will help you navigate the legal system and help you prepare for your future.   

If you need a family law attorney, please contact Edward F. Whipps & Associated for help.  To arrange a confidential initial consultation, please call the Columbus office at (614) 398-4182 or our Dublin office at (614) 461-6007 or toll free at (877) 367-6544.

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