Legal Separation and Separation By Agreement

Legal Separation and a Separation by AgreementA judgment of a court granting legal separation declares that you and your spouse are legally separate. The judgment requires that you and your spouse be treated as separate persons. After the judgment of legal separation you can no longer file income taxes as married, you are no longer entitled to share in each other’s earnings or to support each other (unless you have agreed to in a separation agreement). The difference between legal separation and divorce is that in legal separation neither side can re-marry and the right to inherit is not terminated, except by a properly written and signed agreement. Generally, the timing and cost of a legal separation in court is about the same as for a divorce.

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Telling Your Spouse

telling your spouse you want a separation or divorceThe decision to seek a divorce or separation is a very difficult one for most people. Most often, either the husband or the wife makes the decision to break the news to the other only after thinking about it for a long time.  The decision is accompanied by many negative emotions such as frustration, anger, despair or fear. The term I use for the person who first decides to separate or divorce is the ” initiator”. I call the other spouse the “non-initiator”.

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What about a legal separation?

A legal separation does not end the marriage.When couples separate legally, they remain legally married, but live separately. They A legal separation can be created by a court order (relatively rare), or by signing a separation agreement that spells out the terms of child custody and support, division of property and debts, and spousal support (i.e. alimony) if any is agreed to.

There are many reasons that some couples choose to separate legally, rather than get divorced. Sometimes the reason is religious, ethical or moral, and sometimes it is for insurance or other reasons.

Be Well,

Mike Stokamer,

Separation & Divorce Mediator & Collaborative Attorney