Provision of Legal Separation in the State of Massachusetts
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There is no such thing as provision for legal separation in Massachusetts. Instead, the couple can file for Judgment of Separate Support or Complaint of Separate Support. You are separated if you stay separate and apart from your spouse without cohabitation. Massachusetts is one of the states which does not recognize the documentation for legal separation and considers the couple separated if they are living apart, as mentioned above. The legal status of the couple does not change. They remain married even after they sign a separation agreement and cannot remarry until and unless they get a divorce.
The separation in the state of Massachusetts does not require the court order. It is an agreement between the husband and the wife which is not enforceable legally. To make it legally binding on both the parties, the couple can get it approved from the court with the help of an attorney.
One can stay apart from his / her spouse without needing a court order to do so. The court permission is not necessary to stay apart.
Separation Agreement or Settlement Agreement:
The couple can separate and resolve marital issues by forming a separation agreement. This is a written agreement which addresses the marital issues and resolves them so that it can be used as a blueprint for the divorce process.
These various issues addressed in the separation or settlement agreement are as follows:
There are also other issues such as social security and military benefits for the couples who have been married for more than 10 years which one does not want to miss. Also, insurance coverages, investment plans, pension plans and other things need to be sorted out before the separation agreement is signed and the settlement is reached mutually.
- Child Custody, Support and Visitation – Also known as parental rights, the rights for child custody, support payment and visitation schedule should be mutually decided by the parents so that there would be no issue of conflict regarding these important issues. The non-custodial parent is entitled to visit the children at least once in a week and for vacations and holidays. However, this decision has to be taken by the husband and the wife according to the lifestyle to which children are used to. Besides custody and visitation, support payment is also an important issue related to childcare. The earning capacity of both the spouses is taken into account while deciding the support amount. Also, the standard of life enjoyed by the children before separation has to be considered.
- Alimony – The dependent spouse is entitled to receive a specific amount for the day-to-day expenses. Also, if the dependent spouse wishes to join a course in order to secure a job or an employment to support the children and other household expenses. The independent spouse has to support the family and the dependent spouse until he / she is capable of providing the basic necessities of the children and the overall household. Alimony is also known as spousal support and it is the basic right of the dependent spouse to receive it from the supporting spouse. The education of children, their age, their requirements, household expenses and other factors which are necessary in determining the spousal support are considered while deciding the amount of alimony.
- Order of Protection from Abuse (if any) – If one of the partners wants to step out of the marriage due to physical or sexual abuse (if any), he / she ought to appeal for the order of protection from the abusive spouse. To get this order granted by the court, one needs to hire a professional attorney who can guide the partner to obtain the restraining order or the order for protection abuse if necessary. The law states that no person should suffer the abuse at the hands of their partner with whom he or she has entered the wedlock in a good faith. Every person is entitled to lead a happy and fulfilling life and thus, the order for protection can be granted if the situation demands so.
- Family Home – The fate of the family home, that is, who gets to keep it is very important point in a separation or settlement agreement. Usually, the custodial spouse gets the family home so that the children do not have to face the consequences of the changed state of affairs in their household which may affect their schooling and overall teenage life if they are in an improper age to understand these things. A family home is usually the place where the children are born and literally brought up. The parents should not mess with the children's life and let them stay where they are comfortable rather then changing their life midway.
- Division of Property – An important marital issue which cannot be settled mutually is the issue of property division. This includes the division of real estate, individual property, marital property, assets, debts, responsibilities and pension plans, etc. related to the property. Usually, these issues need to be resolved with the help of an attorney who helps the couple to reach a settlement which is beneficial to both the parties.
Thus, legal separation in Massachusetts pertains to separation or settlement agreement and must be reached and signed carefully.