Tips and Steps to Get a Legal Separation in Delaware

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Delaware is one of the six states which does not recognize the documentation for legal separation. In the state of Delaware, legal separation usually leads to divorce. It is a part of divorce process and not a separate provision. If the couple wishes to get a legal separation instead of divorce, the court treats it as a contract between two parties who stay separate and apart after resolving the marital issues. It is also known as divorce from bed and board.

Requirements for Legal Separation in Delaware:

There are some specific requirements for obtaining legal separation in the state of Delaware. These are as follows:

  • The residency requirement for getting a legal separation in Delaware is six months before the date of filing.
  • The couple must be voluntarily separated for at least six months before the first hearing of the case in the court.
  • The couple should not be having sexual relations with each other or must not share a bed or the same room unless they are looking for reconciliation.
  • Legal separation is a pre-requisite for divorce and there is no separate provision for the same.
  • The couple reside in the same home but must not have sex and must not share the room within 30 days of filing the petition.
These requirements must be fulfilled if the couple wishes to be legally separated in the state of Delaware.

Separation Agreement in Delaware:

As mentioned above, the courts in Delaware treat legal separation as the agreement between the conflicting couples resolving the marital issues thus, protecting their assets until the divorce is finalized or until the couple decides to reconcile.

The separation agreement in Delaware deals with the following marital issues:

  • Issues Regarding Childcare The separation agreement deals with the issues related to childcare such as parental rights, custody, visitation schedule, etc. The children's custody is given to the spouse who can provide them with the lifestyle they enjoyed prior to the separation of their parents and the earning ability of both the parents. The non-custodial parent is given visitation schedule based on the schedule of the children. The visitation schedule is mostly on the weekends and the long vacations except in case of abusive parent where visitation rights are not granted. Also, known as parental rights, these issues are sorted keeping the children welfare as a priority.
  • Support Payments The spousal support or alimony and the child support are determined according to the earning ability of both the spouses and analyzing the expenses required to lead normal day-to-day lives and the standard of life they enjoyed prior to the separation. The dependent spouse is entitled to receive a specific amount as alimony so as to be able to lead an independent life. Besides, the expenses required to secure a job and take proper care of the children are also considered before determining the amount for child support as well as the alimony. If the dependent spouse needs help in completing the education or course required to be able to secure a job which will help him / her earn a decent living, the court may ask the supporting or independent spouse to pay for the same.
  • Property Division and Settlement The property division and settlement deals with the splitting of assets, debts, responsibilities, real estate, family home or other possessions owned by the couple as individual or marital property. This is necessary in order to protect the assets of the couple while they are separated until they get a divorce or they reconcile. The splitting of the property is done according of the earning capacity of both the spouses and the custody of the children. The individual possessions such as jewelry, articles, gifts, etc. remain with the owner regardless of who purchased them in the first place.
  • Other Conditions One has to consider certain conditions such as extraordinary medical care, health care for an ailing spouse, insurance coverage for dental problems or accident insurance, emergency medical expenses in case of accidents, medical benefits in case of life-threatening diseases etc. should also be considered.
All the important topics need to be addressed before signing the separation agreement in the state of Delaware. The agreement should be signed by both the parties and notarized. It is a wiser option to get it reviewed by an attorney as it can be a blueprint for the eventual divorce proceedings.

Grounds for Legal Separation in Delaware:

The only reason for legal separation in Delaware is 'irretrievable breakdown of a marriage' as Delaware is a no-fault divorce state. Voluntary separation for more than six months can be the grounds for legal separation which eventually leads to a divorce.

Forms for Legal Separation in Delaware:

The forms for legal separation in Delaware can be obtained from the official website where they have been added in a printable format. They are easy to fill and one can fill them without any assistance. Some websites also provide free legal separation forms but one must ensure that they are the ones needed.

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