Even the couples with a tremendous amount of love often drift away for reasons, or for no reason at all. Eventually the relationship becomes toxic, making it hard to breathe or function. That is when the couple decides to either legally separate, or file for divorce.
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What is Legal Separation?
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.
Rules of Separation in Marriage
If you want your separation to be legal and want to know how the relationship is outlined further, you have to make sure everything is written down and compiled legally.
To file for a legal separation, you need to know the state requirements. You may hire an attorney to do so, or check online from the official government website. Then you fill in the forms and file them by paying a small registration fee of approximately $430- the figure varies from state to state.
When you file the separation agreement, make sure it covers all aspects of the relationship such as child custody, asset division, child support, marital assets, debts, conditions like dating other people etc. If both agree upon it mutually, then only the agreement is filed.
After both spouses sign the agreement, the judge reviews it and notarizes it. Once it is set, the court clerk will put it in the records, and make sure you keep a copy of it with you. You must follow it and be careful not to violate any clauses from the legal separation agreement.
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.
How many years do you have to be separated to be legally divorced?
There is no such thing as an automatic divorce. Often people ask, ‘how long can you be legally separated?’
Forever if both of you choose to. There is no time limit for how long a couple can stay legally separated. But usually after being legally separated for 3 years, most couples choose to divorce each other and move on with their lives.
There is no automatic divorce unless it is proceeded with formally. To file for a divorce, you must go through the whole official process of it and confirm the end to your marital relationship.
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.