Although most married couples experience conflict occasionally, some seem to face serious difficulties in managing their relationship. When they are unable to make progress in resolving their differences, they may even consider filing divorce papers to end their marriage. But for those who are willing to work at saving the relationship, yet feel that time spent apart could be beneficial as they work on their problems, legal separation may be the answer.
While a divorce legally ends a marriage, a legal separation is like a “timeout” for married spouses, giving them time to work on their issues in mediation or with a counselor. Although some of these couples eventually divorce anyway, many are able to resolve marital issues and resume their marriages happily and productively.
Attorneys and legal document assistants providing divorce services can assist the couple in filing for a legal separation. The documents involved will indicate the terms of the separation:
Who lives where, i.e. the marital home or elsewhere
Custody and visitation of any minor children
Alimony and spousal or child support if warranted, along with other financial holdings
Splitting of household and personal belongings, and other real or personal property
Terms and conditions of the legal separation
Often, when a couple meets with an attorney, they are shocked by the negativity of a divorce and decide to stay together and work things out. But those that do file for legal separation may appreciate time spent in reflection, healing, and dealing with issues that are negatively impacting the marriage, such as abuse or an addiction.
Some couples remain married but legally separated for years in hopes of repairing their marriage or to provide a family environment for their children. Rather than rushing to file divorce papers, a couple should first thoughtfully consider a legal separation.