What Is A Legal Separation?
If your marriage is in trouble, but you are not sure if divorce is the answer, you may want to consider a legal separation. This means you and your spouse will live in separate residences. This gives you and your spouse many of the benefits of a divorce but will not mean the termination of your marriage. You may later decide to divorce or remain legally separated for an unspecified length of time.
What Is Legal Separation?
In Oklahoma, you can file a petition for a legal separation. You may file a separation agreement that resolves similar issues as in a divorce settlement agreement. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of the separation agreement, you may request a court hearing to help with the resolution. Then, the court will issue separation orders which are enforceable in the same way that divorce orders are enforceable.
You may not remarry while you are legally separated. Before remarriage, you must have a final divorce decree.
Reason You May Want A Legal Separation And Not A Divorce
There are many reasons couples may prefer a legal separation over a divorce. Some are:
- There is no residency requirement for a legal separation as there is with a divorce. One party simply files a petition for legal separation in the county where they currently reside.
- You do not need to have grounds for a divorce
- You and your spouse need some time apart, but you are not ready to terminate your marriage.
- For financial reasons, you want to continue filing joint tax returns.
- You do not want to live together any longer, but your religion looks unfavorably on divorce.
- One or both of you need to keep health insurance benefits that would be terminated if you divorced.
There is no time limit on how long you can be legally separated. There is no requirement for you to later file for a divorce and no length of time you are required to live apart before reconciling and moving back in together.
Some couples live apart indefinitely with a legal separation agreement. Some reconcile, and some eventually become legally divorced.
In a legal separation, courts can order the same types of orders that they order in a divorce. For example, issues you may need resolved with a court order include:
- Custody and visitation for the children.
- Whether one of you will remain in the family home during the separation.
- How marital assets will be divided.
- How the debts will be divided.
- The amount of child support or spousal support that is required to be paid by one party to the other during the separation time.
Although you and your spouse believe you can resolve these issues on your own, if there is not an official legal separation agreement ordered by the court, your agreement is not enforceable. A divorce attorney can help you.
CONTACT BROWN & GOULD FOR ASSISTANCE WITH YOUR LEGAL SEPARATION
Talk with a family law lawyer who will discuss with you the differences between a legal separation and a divorce. This will help you decide which is best for you. Our attorneys at Brown & Gould handle all family law issues and serve those throughout the entire state of Oklahoma. Call or text (405) 235-4500 to schedule a consultation.