When a marriage is no longer working, couples have the option of legally separating. This process is much like divorce, but with some major differences. Legal separation essentially involves separating assets and debts, figuring out child custody and visitation agreements, and living apart from each other until the final divorce date. If you are considering legal separation, it’s important to have a solid support system in place, including a divorce lawyer. In this article, we’ll explore the legal separation services you need to start your new life.
1. Understanding Legal Separation:
Before diving into the legal separation process, it’s important to understand what it is. Legal separation is a court-ordered agreement in which a couple decides to live separately, dividing their assets, debts, and possessions. Child custody, spousal support, and visitation agreements are also typically addressed during legal separation. Living separately does not necessarily mean the couple will eventually get divorced, but the option is always there.
2. Finding a Divorce Lawyer:
One of the most important legal separation services you need is a divorce lawyer. An experienced lawyer can provide guidance and advice through the entire process, from filing the initial paperwork to negotiating a separation agreement. Look for a lawyer who specializes in family law and has experience working with couples seeking legal separation. A good divorce lawyer can help you navigate the process of separation with minimal stress and conflict.
3. Child Custody and Visitation:
Child custody is a sensitive subject in legal separation and divorce cases. When deciding on custody arrangements, parents are encouraged to work together to come up with a plan that best suits their child’s needs. If the parents cannot agree, then the court will decide on custody arrangements based on the child’s best interests. The court will also decide on visitation schedules, which should be established as soon as possible after separation. It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of custody and visitation agreements is to ensure that the child remains in a safe and stable environment.
4. Spousal Support:
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is financial support paid from one spouse to the other. The purpose of spousal support is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a similar lifestyle to what they had during the marriage. The amount and duration of spousal support are determined by the court as part of the legal separation agreement. If a spouse is unable to pay spousal support, they can seek a modification of the agreement.
5. Property Division:
Property division is an important aspect of legal separation and divorce. All marital assets and debts must be divided equitably, meaning that they are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. This includes assets like the family home, retirement accounts, and personal property. Debts, such as credit card debt and mortgages, must also be divided. It’s important to keep in mind that some assets, like certain retirement accounts, may have tax implications when divided.
Legal separation is a difficult process that requires careful consideration and planning. However, by working with experienced legal separation services, such as a divorce lawyer, you can make the process as smooth as possible. If you’re considering legal separation, be sure to consult with a divorce lawyer who can provide guidance and support every step of the way. With the right support system in place, you can confidently start your new life.