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How Does a Legal Separation Work?

It is often that the term “legal separation” brings to mind ‘divorce’, although the two vary from each other. Separation, when it comes to marriage, does not mean the same thing as divorce. It is true that as in case of a divorce, a court proclaims the “judgment of separation”. But that is where the similarity lies. In case of separation, you need to live apart from your spouse. However, until you get a judgment of divorce, you are still legally married. Find out how a legal separation agreement works.

What is a Legal Separation?

This is an arrangement ordered by the court of law in which a married couple chooses to live apart, and lead lives separately. This is a popular substitute for divorce in which parties are not sure about how they would like to keep their marriage status, but would like to establish responsibilities and financial boundaries in a proper way – such as in case of child support, custody of dependents or separation of assets.

How Does a Legal Separation Work?

The reasons for opting for a legal separation tend to vary. However, a few of the common ones include:

  • Not being sure about marital future – When the couple is not really sure about what to do with their marriage, they might like to go for a legal separation, keeping doors open for a reconciliation.
  • Religious issues – A few religions prohibit divorcing of married couples. A legal separation allows such couples to live separately and get the same kind of living arrangements as a divorce, without breaking any religious tenet.
  • Getting retirement and health benefits – Many couples try legal separation as it lets them get continued retirement and health benefits, while they can stay separately. Their family can also stay together, and mostly be able to maintain order and stability.

However, once the actual date of a legal separation gets determined, there is freeze on the ability of a spouse to spend from a joint bank account or credit card. It can also reduce control over various other assets – like vehicles and properties. This is true for legal separation in NY as well as in other areas.

What Should a Legal Separation Agreement Include?

All the legal separation petitions should have all these vital pieces of information:

  • Location of marriage
  • Date of marriage
  • Legal names of both spouses
  • Names of dependents or children in a marriage
  • Proposed custody arrangement of kids
  • Addresses of couple where they started to live apart
  • Date on which they began to live separately
  • Any arrangement for child support
  • Some other financial responsibility that both spouses might have agreed to

What is the Cost of a Legal Separation?

In case both parties happen to be in agreement, depending on the state, the legal separation cost will include only the court filing fee – which is generally about 50 – 300 USD, if they never hire an attorney for preparing a separation petition. If there are some issues which have to be taken care of with the help of a lawyer, the cost of separation can be much higher.

How long a legal separation can take varies based on the state as well as how complex the agreement is. However, the process generally takes about 6 – 12 months.

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