If you and your partner have hit a rough patch in your marriage and could use some time apart, you may want to consider a legal separation. This is a less-permanent solution than divorcing—you can easily get back together if you decide to salvage your relationship. However, it offers a lot more protection for both of you than if you were to simply move into separate homes for a while with no legal backing. Here are some things you need to know about legal separation in order to decide whether this option is right for you.
The two of you can share a lawyer.
Legal separation is something that both of you will need to agree to pursue. You cannot file for legal separation from your partner and expect a judge to grant it if your partner is not on board. Generally, couples will hire just one lawyer to represent them in the separation. You don't both need to hire your own attorney as you would in the case of a divorce, although you certainly can if your relationship is particularly contentious.
Your legal agreement will protect you financially.
One of the concerns that couples have when separating is that one partner will spend all of the money and leave the other with nothing. Your separation agreement should protect against this. It will dictate which portion of the income is kept by each party. Most couples will separate their bank accounts when they separate legally, and the separation agreement will dictate how much money remains in each account when you do this.
The separation agreement can lay out childcare procedures.
If you have children, note that a separation agreement does not make any changes to child custody. You will both remain full custodial parents to your children unless you separately petition the court to make other arrangements. Nevertheless, you can outline how the kids will be cared for in your separation agreement. This can include mention of which days they spend in which households, how much each parent will pay for childcare costs, and what schools the children will go to.
Your separation agreement can have a "check-in" date.
You can word the agreement so that it applies until a certain date, upon which you will either choose to renew the agreement, pursue a divorce, or reconcile. Including a check-in date is wise since it encourages you to work on your relationship—whether you ultimately decide to stay apart or come back together.
Contact a business like the Law Office of Greg Quimby, P.C., for more information or assistance.