Legal separation is one very concrete step towards ending a marriage. While there is another form of separation that a husband and wife go through to give each other time and space to make decisions, legal separation takes place when husband and wife have already decided to part ways and live apart before a divorce is finalized. Separation is made legal to protect oneself regarding financial matters, child support, taxes and any other debts that might occur.
Legal separation might not lead to divorce in many cases too if husband and wife reconcile and manage to solve their problems. On the other hand, it also becomes a kind of platform where the parting couple can negotiate their divorce settlement.
A Step to Step Guide to Legal Separation
While in any other situation, you can get separated from your spouse by just packing your things and moving from the home or asking the other partner to move, a legal separation is a complete process which requires intrusion from law. There will be paperwork involved and you will have to hire a divorce attorney to talk things over and file the case in court.
The first step to take if you want to get separated from your partner is to talk it over with him or her so that they know what is coming. Just getting up and leaving the house is not the solution. Talk it over and tell them why you think a separation is necessary. If you have got children, talk to them to and explain the reason why you think a legal separation is required.
Start with Paperwork
For legal separation, you will have to contact a lawyer who will tell you the state laws for separation. Separation laws differ from state to state and have to be followed in any case. The lawyer will draw up the separation agreement to protect the interest of both parties. It is necessary that both partners have their own lawyers to avoid legal problems later on. If you have any idea of law, you can also file your own separation papers.
After you have filed for separation and made arrangements to part from your partner, its time to move out of the home or your partner will move out. This you can decide with mutual consent or you might need help from a layer if the deed is in name of both partners as to who will stay and who will go. If you own the house, it is advised that you do not sign your rights away before divorce. Try to solve things out amicably as at this stage you might not be sure if you will really divorce your partner.
Things to Do When Filing for Legal Separation
- Tell your personal and business contacts that you no longer share the same house, this will help you stay away from any problem that arise after you both are separated such as financial matters or other troubles caused by your partner.
- Take your name from the utility bills such as gas, electricity, phone, cable, trash, paper etc as you will not want to pay for them if you no longer live in the same house
- Have your mail forwarded to a post office box or to a close friend or relative as in most of the cases, couples part on sour note and leaving your important correspondence is not safe
- Note down all the addresses, phone numbers, and account information on mortgages, bank and credit accounts, insurance policies, pension accounts, and any other financial paperwork you will need.
- Get your personal copies of all tax records for the past few years. Remember, State and Federal tax agencies are not parties to a separation or divorce, so if there are back taxes owed, you will still be legally responsible for the debt.
- Freeze all your joint credit accounts. Since you are legally bound to pay the debt, you don’t want to be paying for the spending spree when your spouse fails to pay on the account.
- Check out the safety deposit and see if you would want any personal things.
- Apart from these you have a right to take your clothing, shoes, books, pictures, medicines, furniture that you brought, dishes, phones, computer, pet and any sports and recreational gear that you personally owned. However, it is advised that you act on time and get these things before divorce takes place as your spouse might throw them after wards.
It is important to remember that legal separation is a firm step towards divorce as observed; most of the people go ahead with the divorce after legal separation. Thus, it is better that you are fully equipped and know what to do in such a