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Legal Separation Agreement
When couples part ways, it isn’t as easy as just separating. There are so many complications involved: legal marriage contract, children, inheritance, and sometimes the pressure of family and society too.
Couples often go for legal separation before they end up getting divorced. A separation phase is when the two people are legally married to one another, but live and function separately. They will have contact with the child, may be eligible for inheritance from one another, and may also come together later in life.
Divorce however is the legal end to a marriage; the relationship is officially deemed over and the couple no longer has anything to do with each other. They are free to remarry and move on with their lives on their own terms.
Reasons For Legal Separation
There are many reasons why couples choose to opt for legal separation. There have been cases where spouses decide to leave each other right after they get married, or even after 30 years of marriage when the kids are all grown up and independent. Either way, they do it because they no longer feel compatible with each other.
Here are reasons why couples may want to opt for legal separation.
They don’t want to divorce: One reason can be that couples may be indecisive whether they are ready to leave their partners forever. Divorce can be a taboo in many societies and because of religious boundaries too, people consider divorce as their last option. This is one major reason why couples choose to get legally separated instead.
Children: When children are young at a tender age, especially when they’re teenagers, parents understand how divorce can affect their children. What they do is get separated until their children grow up and get a divorce. When at that later stage they decide to remarry too, their children are mature enough to handle changes.
Tax benefits: Being married gives certain tax benefits to couples, and to keep availing this, couples choose to get legally separated instead of getting divorced.
Avoiding court complications: Getting a divorce can lead to complications with the court and the case. The best way some couples feel is to go for a legal separation without having to file anything making matters more messy and complicated.
Debt separation: During the time of the legal separation, it will be clear that any debt that the person acquires will solely be their responsibility and will not transcend to the other person.
Disadvantages of Legal Separation
If you compare separation vs divorce pros and cons, there are obvious advantages and disadvantages of both.
Legal separation often amounts to the same time and money as filing for a divorce, and often you have to file for divorce at the end of the separation term. This means going through the same process of courts, filings and cost, TWICE!
Moreover, if the couple doesn’t intend on getting back together and there is no reconciliation by either of them to the end of the term, it seems pointless to wait to officially end the separation period. In such cases where a reconciliation is expected, couples may go for an informal separation, and if not, straight away filing for divorce seems like a feasible option.
Difference between Legal Separation and Divorce
Divorce is the legal annulment of a marriage relationship of two spouses, this can be initiated by either of the spouses and often it goes to court if it isn’t settled domestically. After a couple is divorced, decisions like child custody, alimony and settlement issues arise which need to be solved as soon as possible.
A divorce legally marks the end of a relationship- a break up that is more severe and permanent. Spouses are allowed to marry other people once the divorce is finalized, and may not maintain contact with their former spouses if the court orders.
A legal separation on the other hand means that even though the couple is legally married to each other, they live and function separately.
How to get a Legal Separation without a Lawyer?
Although it is definitely advisable to hire an attorney to guide you through the process, it is also understandable that not everyone may have access to a reasonable family lawyer. Thus, there are ways to file for a legal separation without a lawyer.
The first step is obviously to get the forms and fill them up. These legal separation forms can be found from your county’s or state website, you can download them and fill them up or you can go to the local office and fill them out personally. This way you can get quick answers to any questions you may have.
Go through the petition yourself and make sure you have covered everything asked in it. Your petition should be well researched and well drafted, because the judge will only attend to what has been explicitly asked in the petition.
You should sign a written agreement with your spouse in the presence of at least one or two witnesses because this mutual agreement is very important. Discuss important aspects of child custody, child support and alimony upfront- it would save you a lot of heartbreak and disappointment later if you were able to talk these things out with your spouse right now.
How much does Legal Separation cost?
The cost of legal separation is about $50,000 with average prices ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 in the US for 2020. Uncontested legal separation cases can settle for as low as $1,000, while highly contested separations involving matters like legal decision making and alimony can get up into the $100,000 range.
If you’re in the UK, you need to include a certified copy of your marriage or civil partnership certificate when you send the form. Getting a legal separation costs £365. You may be able to get help with court fees if you’re on benefits or a low income.
Many couples go through messy divorces which may cost them so much money, time and effort. So instead, most of them choose to get legally separated which is cheaper and has less complications too. There are several other reasons like cultural and religious barriers that prohibit couples from getting a divorce, so to avoid that taboo many couples go for legal separations or an informal separation.
Getting a legal separation without a lawyer is possible, but it is advisable to have an expert on board who can guide you through all the important aspects of the process. There are some family lawyers willing to take pro bono cases too, so if you’re someone who can’t afford a family attorney, this is what you can do.