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Separation Before Divorce

Written by on June 28, 2016

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Couples who are considering divorce often want to separate as a first step. Separation may be a good option for those who are unsure of moving ahead with a divorce or who are still working on their marriages. While some states require a waiting period before divorce, Indiana does not require that a couple is separated prior to ending their marriage. If you have decided to separate, it is helpful to speak with a knowledgeable divorce attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will answer your questions and help you learn the facts necessary to make the best decisions as you move forward.

Legal Separation

A legal separation allows couples to live apart for a period of time prior to a divorce. A separation does not require you to proceed with a divorce. In fact, many couples use this time as a trial period as they continue to try to resolve issues in their marriage. If you wish to separate, it is best to do so through a legal document. A legal separation protects both parties during the time they are living apart. The court will grant legal separations in cases where the conditions are intolerable, but the couple still wishes to resolve their marital issues and try to salvage the union.

Separation Agreement

A legal separation must be done through a separation agreement. This document is a legally binding agreement between both spouses. It addresses all of the same issues of a divorce settlement. It covers the matters of:

  • Child support;
  • Spousal support;
  • Child custody;
  • Visitation; and
  • Restraining orders.

One of the most important things to remember about separation agreements is that they are only valid for a period of one year. The law provides this period of time for couples who may have a chance at saving their marriages. Therefore, these terms are only in effect for the length of the separation. Couples are expected to make a decision regarding the fate of their marriage prior to the end of the separation agreement.

Grounds and Criteria for Legal Separations

The law requires couples seeking a legal separation to meet specific criteria. Couples must meet the grounds for separation, which include two items:

  1. The circumstances of the marriage make it intolerable to remain in the same residence; and
  2. The marriage should be maintained.

The courts do not want to provide legal separations in cases where the couple already knows they are going to divorce, and have no intention of working on fixing their marriage. At least one of the parties must have resided in Indiana for a period of six months, and a resident in the county of filing for a period of three months. Additionally, neither party may have already filed for divorce.

Those who are considering whether to separate or divorce may need some time to consider their options. A separation may be helpful for those who want to protect their rights while making important decisions about whether to continue their marriage. If you are thinking about separation or divorce, talk to the experienced lawyers at The Bellinger Law Office today. We are eager to help you throughout each step of your case.

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