Columbus, Ohio Legal Separation Attorneys
The phrase “legal separation” is often misunderstood. Many people think that in order to separate from their spouse, they need to initiate a legal proceeding to be officially “separated.” This is not true. You can separate from your spouse just by ceasing to cohabitate, which is the legal phrasing for no longer acting as husband and wife. Usually this means people are living in separate residences and no longer share finances. However, couples can cease to cohabitate even when still living under the same roof and even if still sharing some financial accounts or responsibilities. A “legal separation,” on the other hand, is a court proceeding that is almost identical to a divorce proceeding. The court must order a division of the assets and debts, determine spousal and child support, and allocate custody and parenting time, where applicable. In the end, the only difference between a legal separation and a divorce is the legal status of the parties’ relationship. After a divorce, parties are free to remarry because they are no longer legally married. After a legal separation, parties are technically still married. Though, once legally separated, one of the parties can always come back later and ask for a divorce so they are free to remarry.
Why would anyone use a legal separation?
Parties who utilize a legal separation proceeding typically do so due to religious constraints or beliefs. Another reason it may be used is for dependent care benefits. A divorce terminates a dependent spouse’s right to benefits such as health insurance, but some plans allow legally separated spouses to continue receiving health insurance benefits. This will depend on the specifics of the benefit plan, but it is possible this may be a solution for you.
Why not just stay married?
During a marriage, all property and debts accumulated are by default considered “marital property.” (There are some exceptions to this rule. If you want to learn more about this, see our article on property division.) However, when the parties legally separate, property or debts accumulated by one of the spouses remains that spouse’s separate property. Again, this is a reason why people may utilize a legal separation as opposed to staying married for religious reasons.
If you are facing a divorce, dissolution, or legal separation, call our Columbus, Ohio office today at (614) 567-3031 to schedule an initial consultation. If you hire us, we will credit your account with the cost of your initial consultation.