The Meaning of Legal Separation

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

People who have left home and decided a divorce is the right decision but haven't yet finalized the process often say they are "separated." And there's nothing wrong with this in normal conversation – after all, living apart from your spouse with the intention of pursuing a divorce is about as "separated" as you can get.

But this can cause some confusion when discussing the legal definition of "separation." Every state's laws on this differ, but it's important to remember that in many states you are not "legally separated" unless you go through a very specific procedure.

To learn more about your state's divorce laws and how they apply to your unique situation, please call Split Simple today at (855) 665-9920.

How Separation Differs from Divorce

Here's perhaps the most important takeaway from this discussion: becoming "legally separated" often requires going through the exact same process as finalizing a divorce. You must still craft a settlement that gains a judge's approval and addresses the usual issues, such as:

  • Equitable division of assets
  • Child custody
  • Spousal support

In other words, a legal separation is not easier or simpler than a divorce. In terms of time and effort, it's essentially the exact same thing. And there is no legal recognition of your de facto "separated status" without pursuing the appropriate legal action; you cannot live apart from your spouse for a certain period of time and achieve legal separation.

Now, some couples choose a legal separation because it's advantageous to their unique financial situations. Many couples have benefit plans or insurance policies that are more generous for those who are married than those who are divorced. For these couples, a legal separation is an excellent way of keeping those benefits while untangling their lives.

Unlike some benefit plans however, the IRS considers you and your spouse as not married for tax filing purposes.  As a result of your IRS status you will need to file separate tax returns.

However, in many states you do remain married under the law. In order to remarry, you must convert the legal separation into a divorce (which is a fairly straightforward processs).

Split Simple's attorney-mediators will discuss your options with you and help you decide if legal separation is right for you. 

If you want to arrange a free consultation with out attorney-mediators during which you can discuss handling your case through mediation, please call Split Simple today at (855) 665-9920 or contact us online.