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March 17, 2022

Why do couples file for a legal separation instead of a divorce?

Posted in Uncategorized

There are many considerations that go into deciding when to get a Maryland divorce. For some, when the marriage has come to an end, divorce may not be an immediate option for various reasons. Couples who do not want to stay together, but are not ready for a divorce, may get what they want by going through a legal separation. The following is a brief overview. If you would like to discuss more details regarding your specific situation, contact our office to speak with one of our divorce lawyers in Rockville, MD.

Why do couples file for a legal separation instead of a divorce?

Some of the reasons for avoiding divorce are religious, financial, or social. It may be that a couple’s religion does not allow divorce, or that one spouse needs to stay covered as a spouse under the other’s health insurance policy for a period of time. Other couples may remain married in order to reach a certain number of years of marriage and qualify for benefits, for example, Social Security benefits.

A legal separation may be used by couples in these situations. A legal separation involves more than just one spouse moving out, and the couple living separately. However, before a couple can get legally separated, they must be physically separated, that is, they must be living separately. They must also meet residency requirements within the state and have lived within the state for at least one year before filing. One of our Rockland MD divorce lawyers will be able to determine if you meet the requirements set forth by the state.

What are the differences between a legal separation and a divorce?

The same legal issues that are resolved in a divorce may be resolved in a legal separation. A court granting a legal separation can make determinations as to child custody and parenting time, spousal maintenance, child support, and even the division of property if the couple makes the request. This can be helpful for couples who later decide to go through with the divorce because the major issues will already be resolved. A formal separation also helps protect the spouses from being held liable for marital debts during the period of separation.

However, couples who get legally separated cannot remarry during the separation. Under the law, the couple is still married, and cannot marry anyone else without first getting divorced. The spouses may date other people but should consider how that will be received by the other spouse. If the separation is a mutual arrangement in order to get other benefits that would be lost in a divorce, then dating while separated may be expected. But if the separation is supposed to be a way for the couple to work through some issues and make a decision as to their future, the non-dating spouse may become angry and make a future divorce contentious.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

Making the decision to end a marriage is not always easy, and perhaps a legal separation may be a better option for you than a divorce. For more information on how we can help you file for legal separation and settle the important legal issues that may come with a legal separation, contact one of our dedicated Rockland MD divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Daniel Wright.

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