Differences Between Divorce and Legal Separation
Even individuals or couples that feel they can no longer live with a spouse may not be ready for the finality of divorce, perhaps because of moral, religious, or financial reasons, or because of the feelings of children involved. The good news is there are options to explore.
Legal separation is similar to divorce in that spouses will no longer live together or act as a married couple, but they will remain legally married. A decree of legal separation is similar to a decree of dissolution of marriage (or legal divorce) in that it absolves either party of legal and financial responsibility for the other (including support, debt, taxes, etc.). However, parties are still considered married and may not remarry.
That said, legal separation requires spouses to create a separation agreement that covers property division, child custody and visitation, and financial concerns like maintaining spousal health insurance, for example. It’s important to carefully consider what you include in a separation agreement as it will factor into a divorce agreement down the road.
For couples divorcing amicably, mediation is often the best and most affordable solution. Each party and their lawyers will meet with a neutral mediator to resolve issues or disputes in order to create a divorce agreement that satisfies both parties. This can hasten the divorce process immeasurably and help to preserve positive relations between divorcing spouses and children.
If mediation doesn’t work, binding arbitration is another option to avoid going to court and making disputes a matter of public record. As with mediation, a neutral third party will hear both sides of issue and try to help you come to an agreeable outcome. This is often much quicker than waiting for a court hearing, which could take months. The major difference is that the final decision made by the arbitrator is legally binding, so if one or both parties disagree, they have no legal recourse to fight the decision.
This is often the most protracted and expensive option, but for couples that cannot come to an agreement through mediation and refuse to submit to binding arbitration, this is a last resort when seeking divorce or legal separation. Unfortunately, you may be unable to avoid a court hearing, unless you’re willing to concede to a spouse’s demands, however unreasonable.
In this case, you’ll definitely want the guidance and services of a reputable and experienced attorney. Contact the professionals at Curtis Law Firm today at 303-625-6894 to learn more.