Ending a marriage is incredibly difficult. Anyone having significant problems in their marriage should avoid rushing the decision to divorce. Once you finalize a divorce, you cannot revoke the divorce order. While you are technically able to remarry an ex-spouse, the divorce process entails significant financial issues for both spouses that won’t be easy to reverse. In some cases, spouses having marital problems benefit by taking time apart and reevaluating their needs and goals. Legal separation is the ideal solution in this situation, providing some of the benefits that divorce can offer without the finality.
Legal separation is often conflated with divorce, and these two family law processes entail very similar procedures and components. Some people use legal separation as a springboard for a future divorce, settling their practical issues efficiently and taking their time in finalizing the divorce. Others use legal separation as a time to cool off and refocus before addressing the issues that have deteriorated their marriages. If you have been having marital problems in Oklahoma City, OK, you should understand the potential benefits that legal separation might provide.
What Is Legal Separation?
Legal separation allows a married couple to establish separate lifestyles and living arrangements while remaining legally married. There are many situations in which legal separation is preferable to divorce, and all couples should weigh their options carefully if they are not sure how to address their current marital issues. Legal separation requires addressing many of the same issues as divorce, such as property division, spousal support, and child custody. However, the couple retains the right to rescind their separation order at any time if they decide to reconcile. Conversely, they can proceed with a divorce in the future, and their legal separation will have already addressed the majority of the issues that divorce would compel them to resolve.
Divorce, on the other hand, cannot be reversed the way a legal separation can. When you and your spouse decide to end legal separation and resume your marriage normally, you both simply sign a petition to terminate the separation agreement. The court will review and approve it, and the legal separation ends. Divorce is final, so the only real way to “undo” a divorce would be to get remarried. This can lead to a host of complex legal and financial issues for the spouses.
Who Benefits From Legal Separation?
Legal separation offers significant benefits in many situations. While you might think your marriage is beyond saving, it’s important to consider whether you are ready for the finality of divorce. Legal separation can provide several advantages to people from all walks of life. Some of the most commonly cited reasons for couples to choose legal separation in lieu of divorce in Oklahoma City include:
- Personal reasons. The couple may want time and space apart to reevaluate their needs and goals, and they may not be ready for the finality of divorce. Legal separation can serve as a trial period, allowing both spouses to see what their lives would be like if they divorce and whether that is what would be best for them. If neither spouse intends to remarry, legal separation can make more sense, allowing them to retain the benefits that marriage provides while allowing them to live separately.
- Financial benefits. Marriage provides several important financial benefits, including the ability to file taxes jointly, the ability to share employer-provided health insurance, and the ability to claim certain government benefits like Social Security. Divorce may preclude some people from taking advantage of these benefits, so they choose legal separation for financial reasons. High net worth individuals may not want to risk facing tax penalties or liquidating certain assets in divorce and may choose legal separation instead.
- Religious beliefs. Some religions prohibit divorce. If a devout couple wants to live separately but cannot end their marriage for religious reasons, legal separation is the ideal mechanism for accomplishing this.
- Family reasons. It’s possible to legally separate from your spouse and remain living together, but you typically need to establish separate bedrooms. This type of arrangement may seem awkward, but parents of younger children may wish to complete a legal separation while maintaining their family unit for the sake of their children. If they are able to do this effectively, it can allow the parents to disentangle from each others’ finances while maintaining a family lifestyle. Once their children are old enough to better understand the situation, they may proceed with finalizing their divorce.
Ultimately, there are many possible reasons why a couple may prefer legal separation instead of divorce. However, it is essential for anyone considering this option to understand that legal separation requires addressing many of the same issues that divorce entails. While legal separation is more flexible, it is still a complex and time-consuming process that can be very difficult to manage without legal representation.
Do I Need an Oklahoma City, OK Family Law Attorney for Legal Separation?
If you believe that legal separation offers benefits that divorce would not, you should carefully consider whether legal separation could be better for your unique situation. You will need to address many of the same issues that divorce entails, such as child custody, property division, and spousal support, and navigating these issues will be much easier with an experienced attorney on your side.
An Oklahoma City, OK family law attorney can help you make more informed decisions about your legal separation proceedings. They’ll assist you in gathering the documentation you will need to provide to complete the process and help you understand your options once you have a separation order in place. If you later decide to proceed with divorce, you can rely on your attorney to guide you through your divorce proceedings. If you and your spouse realize that your marital issues were not as bad as you thought and decide to reconcile, your attorney can assist you in drafting your petition to terminate your separation order.
It’s natural to have lots of questions about legal separation and divorce. If you are unsure which option is right for your situation, it’s best to consult an experienced Oklahoma City family law attorney to discuss your case.