Separation Divorce Laws

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Legal separation and divorce are two legal terminologies that are often confused for each other. A divorce is the final dissolution of marriage. It ends the union of two people by nullifying all rights and duties due to marriage. If the divorced spouses wish to reconcile, they need to go through the procedure of marriage again. A legal separation on the other hand is a physical separation that keeps the marriage intact. Thus, the partners can get together without any procedure, if they wish so. Separation divorce laws explain the terms and conditions of legal separation.

A divorce terminates a marriage. A legal separation implies that the marriage has not ended but the couple is residing apart and separate. Therefore, both of these are governed by separate laws. In a legal separation laws, the responsibilities and rights of each partner while residing separately are outlined.

Separation Divorce Laws regarding Spousal Support

The court takes into account the below mentioned factors while considering spousal support in a legal separation:

  • The education of the separating partners.
  • The standard of living enjoyed in marital life.
  • The span of the marital life.
  • Any retirement benefits of the separating partners.
  • The emotional situation of the separating partners.
  • The physical ability of the separating partners to earn.
  • The age of the separating partners.
  • The earning ability of the separating partners.
  • The income of both the partners.

A majority of states in the United States have prescribed laws that deal with spousal support in a separation issue. As per these laws, the court can pass orders granting temporary spousal support during the separation. While filing for a separation, the separating partner is legally empowered to request the court to grant spousal support.

If one separating partner pays spousal support to the other partner, then the spouse paying alimony is eligible for the tax deductions on income received. However, this must be indicated in the legal separation agreement. In case of those couples, who have separated in the absence of any legal agreement, deductions of spousal support are not considered during tax deductions.

Separation Divorce Laws concerning Financial Issues

  • In an equitable distribution state, if a partner acquires any debt, then a legal separation agreement can be used to safeguard oneself from this debt. In a community property state, such sort of protection can't be obtained using a legal separation agreement.

  • Several separating couples have joint credit accounts and joint savings and checking accounts. A legal separation agreement can be used to specify whether the separating partners have access to the joint accounts in the period of separation. The agreement may also direct the couple to close all joint bank accounts and open single accounts in their names.

  • Consider that the separating couple has a home. There are several issues like maintenance, lawn care, utilities and mortgage payments that need to be considered while retaining a home. The legal separation agreement specifies joint responsibilities of the separating partners towards the various aspects of the marital residence.

  • Consider that one separating partner is protected under the other partner's health insurance plan. It can be mentioned in the legal separation agreement that the benefits of this insurance would be applicable in the period of separation also.

Other issues of Legal Separation Agreement

  • Visitation schedules: If the non-custodial partner applies for child visitation, the agreement should clearly state the terms and timings of such visitation including frequency of meetings, places and time duration.
  • Child support: Child support is to be paid by both partners out of their income. The amount should cover the educational and medical expenses of the child.
  • Child custody: Child custody should be decided considering the interests of the child. The rules and regulations of child custody should be followed while determining the details of the custody.

Separation Divorce Laws and Trial Separation

Sometimes, a couple opts for a separation to end up the conflicts between them by staying separately. They take this opportunity to decide whether the marriage can be continued or not. One need to however, be very careful with the terms listed in separation agreement. Consider that a couple has undergone separation and then they decide to get divorced and the case is registered in the court. It is quite likely that the Judge would presume that the agreements and terms and conditions listed in a separation agreement would be the same for a divorce settlement agreement as well.

Thus, separation divorce laws are to be studied thoroughly as the agreement will decide the direction of settlement of divorce -related issues.

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