Sometimes, two people who get married need to separate their lives and finances after living as a united couple for years. In fact, it’s not that uncommon at all, given that nearly half of all US marriages end in divorce. But what about those situations where divorce is impossible, inadvisable, or even unwanted? Not every circumstance where a married couple needs to financially and legally separate results in a divorce. In some cases, the separation isn’t even an emotional one, simply a matter of logistics, politics, or complex personal finances. Other times, the separation is emotional but for legal or financial reasons, a divorce is out of the question.
In these strange circumstances where a couple needs all the functions of a divorce but none of the finality, legal separation may be the solution. For various reasons, it is not always advisable to enter into a legal separation, but if you and your attorney discuss all the ramifications, and legal separation is truly the best scenario for you then this article is important to read.
What is Legal Separation?
Legal separation is the act of separating a couple’s lives on paper without actually severing the marriage. Almost all the same issues are covered in the process of separation including child custody, splitting of assets, and separating bank accounts without actually ending the marriage (although some of these issues may only be temporary). This leaves a number of possibilities open, including retaining shared businesses and properties and returning to a united household at some point in the future.
Is legal separation the solution you need? If you’re not sure, consider these five scenarios where legal separation may be the answer for you. Legal separation allows for unique solutions to complex marital situations where divorce is not the ideal answer.
1) Two Spouses Live Far Apart
One of the most common reasons for a legal separation actually has nothing to do with affection or emotional devotion, but rather one of logistics. Sometimes, the two members of a marriage find themselves living very far apart. This is often the result of work, both people following their successful careers, even if that means living on opposite sides of the country or even overseas from each other.
When this happens, it may make sense to officially separate your finances, property ownership, and legal identities for a while. After all, you’re both functioning as two completely separate adults whether you are emotionally distant or call each other every night.
2) Your Marriage is In the Public Eye
Another reason for legal separation is when a divorce would be, unfortunately, more public than it should be. Whether the two people involved are celebrities or simply joint business owners, sometimes a marriage is a matter of public speculation in such a way that a divorce would cause incredible chaos.
If your romantic relationship has ended but your lives would be very negatively impacted by a full-fledged divorce, legal separation may be the best choice to keep both members of the nearly-ended marriage afloat.
3) Your Religion Forbids Divorce
There are a great many people who believe in strict religious rules when it comes to marriage. When you pledged to stay with your spouse until death do you part, you meant it and no amount of emotional estrangement or physical distance could cause you to break that vow. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t move on with your life in every other way.
Legal separation may be a solution for a couple who agree that they are married for life, even when personal sentiment or a desire to share a household has ended. In this situation, a lawyer can help both parties set up separate households, finances, and even custody agreements with any shared children without breaking your vows to remain married.
4) Complex Financial Limitations
Even outside of religious beliefs, there are also many situations in which a couple might like to get divorced but there are financial or legal reasons why this is an impractical decision. One person’s inheritance might rely on not getting divorced or remaining married to their spouse, for instance. Or a trust that was left to both members of the marriage that would dissolve if they were to divorce.
Couples sometimes decide to legally remain married in order to more easily provide financial support even if the love in a marriage has died.
5) You Want to Give Your Marriage a Second Chance
Finally, one of the most important things about a legal separation is that unlike a divorce, separation is reversible. A legal separation allows you to sort out all the usual divorce concerns like separate households, bank accounts, and child custody without the finality of actually ending the marriage.
This can be a way to take a few months or years off from each other and to settle certain legal concerns without actually ending the marriage for good. If you still love each other but need space in your marriage or if you’re not ready to call it quits, a legal separation may work for you. If you think there’s a chance of reconciliation but don’t want to be one of those couples who divorces and remarries, legal separation can be the key.
If your marriage is too complicated for divorce but not simple enough to stay together, legal separation may be a way to put a bookmark in your relationship and live separate lives for as long as you need to do so. Let our family lawyers help you separate your finances and households while leaving your options for the future open in a way that divorce never could. For a personal consultation on how a legal separation could work for your marriage, contact us today!