Hi, Tim Blankenship here with divorce661.com and today we’re talking about the difference between divorce and legal separation.
I get a call a lot where people are asking about legal separation and they think that it’s the first step to a divorce. It’s not. So I want to clarify on what I would tell you if you called asking about the difference between divorce and legal separation.
The process is identical. The paperwork’s the same. There’s just a few different check boxes, we’re checking legal separation as opposed to divorce. At the end of the day, however, with a legal separation you’re of course still married when you have a judgment for legal separation.
You’re still going to have custody orders, you’re still going to have property division orders, you’re going to have all the same orders you would have in a divorce except you’ll still be married at the end of the say. So two things, number one is if you ever want to later divorce, you’ll have to start the process all over again. You won’t have to readdress property division or spouse support or child support, or custody or visitation, but you’ll have to have new court fees, you’ll have to file a brand new case.
If your legal separation case finalizes and you get a judgment you’re going to have to start a brand new case however many years down the road when you want to divorce. So what I tell folks, the only real people that we see actually filing a legal separation and staying with a legal separation is in cases where they want to maintain their spouse on medical for one reason or another.
Double check with your employer because this loophole is starting to close. We’re starting to find some employers, who even with a legal separation, are not allowing the other party to remain on health insurance. And then, number 2, for religious reasons is the only other reason we see folks going through a legal separation versus a divorce. So most of the time, I’m talking folks out of legal separation.
And then, I’d say, maybe out of a hundred calls about legal separation, probably only 2, legitimately, should go through a legal separation. And what I want you to get out of this is there really only is two real reasons, medical and religious reasons. Of course you can always file a legal separation for any other personal reason just know that you’ll still be married at the end of the day and you’ll still have to file for divorce, a brand new case, brand new fees, brand new paperwork to file for divorce to finalize the legal separation.
And finally legal separation is not what you would file first to start a divorce. Either when you file for divorce, you will indicate a date of separation, so that will handle the date of separation, but you don’t first file for legal separation to then ultimately get divorced. Tim Blankenship, divorce661.com.