Divorce proceedings are often complicated, lengthy and expensive, especially when children are involved. While dissolving the marriage may be what’s best for your situation, there is another option.
When couples experience marital strife, a legal separation offers an alternative to divorce that allows spouses to live apart, giving each party the space they need to evaluate the future of the marriage. Legal separation is a court-ordered arrangement, and as part of that arrangement, a court may issue alimony, allocate responsibilities for paying debts, establish access to marital property and even decide child-related issues such as custody and support.
The central difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that a separation allows the parties legally remain husband and wife. Neither party may lawfully remarry unless they return to court for a divorce.
Some couples may pursue a legal separation for religious reasons, such as their particular belief system looking down upon divorce. Others may elect a legal separation to achieve greater independence while attempting to repair the marriage. Since a legal separation doesn’t dissolve the marriage, individuals can still remain on their spouse’s health insurance and even file taxes jointly.
Whatever the reason, when it becomes necessary to legally redefine your relationship, legal separation provides an alternative to divorce that still allows for independence.
To be granted a legal separation, you must first file a petition in a county where one of the parties has resided for at least 30 days. Unlike divorces, legal separations do not require a six-month residency requirement. If the parties later decide to divorce, the separation can be converted into a divorce once the six-month residency requirement is met.
If you are looking for a more definitive end to your marriage, a divorce proceeding may still be the best choice for you. Unlike a legal separation order, divorce ends in a final dissolution of the marriage and provides a precise end date for the union. Once the relationship is formally dissolved, both parties can remarry if they choose.
At the Lindsey Law Firm, P.C., I provide experienced, personal and effective legal representation to clients seeking a divorce or legal separation. Call me today at 918-587-0097 to schedule your free initial consultation or contact me online. My office is in downtown Tulsa, just two blocks from the courthouse and a short distance from the courthouse bus stop.