What is legal separation?
Legal separation (sometimes “judicial separation”, “separate maintenance”, “divorce a mensa et thoro”, or “divorce from bed-and-board”) is a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a de facto separation while remaining legally married. A legal separation is usually granted in the form of a court order.
What is a separation agreement?
The same issues addressed during the divorce process are also addressed in a separation agreement. A separation agreement can protect your interests until the decision is made to file for divorce. The separation agreement also sets a precedence for the divorce that may follow. If you divorce after a separation and your case goes to court, a judge is likely to assume that since you were satisfied with the separation agreement, the agreement should carry over to the divorce settlement agreement. For that reason, it is important that you come to a separation agreement you can live with long term.
Why is it a good idea to have a separation agreement?
- If there is high conflict and you are your spouse are unable to engage in healthy communication.
- If you don’t trust your spouse to live up to verbal agreements the two of you make together.
- If you have children and want child support. You can’t enforce the payment of child support without a legal court order.
- If you have children and need to set up a visitation schedule.
- If you are a non-working spouse and have a need for spousal support. Once again, this can’t be enforced without a legal court order.
- If you own a home, a legal separation agreement is imperative to keep from falling behind on mortgage payments.
- An agreement can settle questions like:
(a) Who will pay out of pocket expenses if a child becomes ill?
(b) Should your child be exposed to another man/woman spending the night at your spouse’s home?