Though not everyone understands the distinction, it is important to realize that separation is not equivalent to an actual divorce. A separation simply indicates that while your marriage is still legally valid, you and your spouse live apart from one another. The marriage is intact unless and until a divorce judgment is obtained, and this is true even if a separate judgment has been issued. Separations, however, do carry implications for the finances of the parties involved, even prior to finalization of a divorce. Generally speaking, three distinct sorts of separations exist. In the majority of jurisdictions, only the legal separation alters a couple’s legal status, though all three types can have some impact on the parties’ rights.
Separation On A Trial Basis
Should a couple mutually decide that some time part is necessary before any further decisions are made, living apart from one another may provide a bit of breathing room in which assessments of reconciliation prospects or divorce may proceed? During a separation, the applicable legal rules are no different from those involved with marriage, particularly in terms of property ownership. Income and property purchases will typically be regarded as being of a joint nature, though this can vary on a state-by-state basis. If there is hope for reconciliation in the relationship, it is wise to draft an agreement regarding several issues likely to arise. For instance, it is necessary to address whether joint bank or credit card accounts will continue to be used, how budgeting will proceed, who will remain in the marital home and similar matters. Couples with minor children will need to determine where, when and how each parent will be with them. Of course, there are instances in which it becomes clear that the trial period of separation needs to become permanent, and such circumstances are outlined in the paragraphs that follow. If you are looking for representation check out John K. Grubb.
Separation That Is Permanent
Those who are living apart from a spouse with no intention of pursuing a reconciliation or a formal divorce are thought to be in a state of permanent separation. There are states in which such a scenario will alter the allocation of rights between the parties. Those who do not plan to reunite will find that the debts and assets accumulated during the separation period will be attributed only to the party responsible for them. Once a permanent separation occurs, a party will not be obligated on any debt incurred by the other. On the flip side, a party will not share in the income or assets obtained by the other during that time. Given the possible monetary ramifications, the actual date on which a permanent separation commenced can be a contentious issue in an eventual divorce proceeding. As an example, if one spouse leaves the home and stays with a friend for several weeks, but divorce was not mentioned for a significant period thereafter, the actual separation date can be a bit nebulous. Should the departed spouse come into some serious money during the period of limbo, there can be a real disagreement about each party’s right to share in it. A spouse who leaves the home with no intention of reconciling should be careful when it comes to spending a nostalgic night back together or going out on a casual date with the soon-to-be-ex-spouse. A reunification, albeit a brief one, can cause real difficulties in terms of assessing the actual separation date. This can lead to battles over responsibility for one spouse’s financial doings during a time period when the other spouse felt free from risk. When a separation occurs and solid decisions have been made about debts and assets, there is no requirement that a divorce occurs immediately. Marriages often continue for many reasons, including insurance coverage concerns and simply out of habit and routine.
There are certain states in which it is possible to receive a court-authorized legal separation. This is a status that is distinct from that held by those who are divorced and those who are married. Such a couple is not married, but also not divorced. Remarriage is not possible. Under a legal separation order, a couple will receive legal approval of alimony, a division of property, child support and custody, as would be the case in an actual divorce. It is common for those opting for legal separation to do so because of religious considerations, a strong preference to maintain family unification for so that one spouse may retain insurance coverage. There have been many couples that have proceeded under a legal separation for a long period without complaint. Those contemplating such an arrangement as a means for one spouse to remain covered by insurance should review plan documents to make certain that separation is not considered equivalent to divorce. A Houston Texas divorce attorney can help clients make this type of critical determination.