A Quick Guide to the Legal Separation Process

Family Law Group in Tampa, FL

Ending a marriage is never a simple task. This is true even if you and your spouse have decided to file for legal separation rather than a divorce. You may want to try working on the marriage but feel you and your partner cannot live under the same roof for the time being. Whatever your rationale, read the information below for a quick understanding of the legal separation process.

Review Your State’s Laws

When it comes to legal separation, not all states are created equal. Some states do not recognize legal separations. In other states, legal counsel is required in order to have a separation acknowledged legally. Before deciding whether or not to file for a legal separation from your spouse, understand your state’s specific laws.

Know the Benefits

Some couples prefer not to divorce for religious or family reasons, and legally separating rather than divorcing is one way for those couples to lead separate lives while technically remaining married. In other instances, as the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Some marriages are strengthened after a little time apart, and couples decide to reconcile after having the space to work out their differences. Further benefits include the ability to remain on one another’s health insurance plans and potential tax thresholds advantages as well.

Begin the Process

Once you have learned your state’s laws regarding legal separation, you can file a separation petition. Some states require an attorney in order to do so, others may not. Fees payable to the court are typically required when filing this initial petition. In addition to filing a separation petition, you may file a separation agreement as well. Everything that would be included in a divorce agreement, such as child custody and spousal support, should be stipulated in the document. 

Unless you are filing jointly with your spouse, you will need to have him or her served with legal separation documents. Once you receive a response, any unresolved issues will go before mediation or a judge when the dispute cannot be resolved in mediation. The final agreement will be signed and notarized before being filed on record with your county court clerk. You should always maintain a copy for your personal records.

If you are unsure whether legal separation could be an option in your marriage, you should contact a family law group in Tampa, FL like The McKinney Law Group to assist you in making the right decision for you.