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In a regular divorce proceeding Hollywood and TV shows make the legal filing dramatic and tense, with soon to be ex-spouses finding out about their impending dissolution by entire surprise or, even worse, when their character is just reaching the top of the world in the episode script. While it is true that a divorce request is actually provided through a legal court notice after one part or both submit a filing in a local court, a separation of marriage filing is not so cut and dry.
First, the nature of a separation of marriage not outright ordered by a court doesn’t lend itself to surprise. A marriage separation is based on a written agreement, like a contract, with multiple terms spelled out detailing either spouse’s responsibilities going forward. Because this process requires a contemplated, negotiated produced between two people, and because both people need to sign the agreement to make it effective, it is not possible to file a marriage separation by surprise.
Second, a separation of marriage filing doesn’t fall into default, standardized filings. Each separation has to be crafted by the parties involved, which makes each one unique and dissimilar from other marriage separation filings.
However, all the above assumes that people are behaving in a legal, allowable manner. If someone was being fraudulent, on the other hand, it’s technically possible that the person could forge another spouse’s signature and file the marriage separation with a court to make it official. The ruse, however, would only last until the second spouse realized what occurred and protested the matter, proving the original filing was a fake. Then the court would issue a bench warrant for the first spouse’s arrest for a number of things including fraud, contempt of court, filing a false court document and a bit more. Long story short, the penalties would be pretty severe on the suspect, including the anger of the court being duped.
Why someone would want to go to the trouble of a fake marriage separation defies normal logic. There’s not really much, if anything, gained from doing so. In just about every case, a marriage separation involves terms of compromise, where either party involved has to give up something to make the agreement work. The idea for the tool is to allow a married couple to sort out the daily financial issues and try out a separation before a final divorce situation is approved. In some cases, parties get back together and reconcile when they get a glimpse of life separated. So the filing is not the sort of thing that gives anyone a sudden financial advantage worth stealing with a fake marriage separation attempt. And the penalties with getting caught clearly outweigh such a dumb move.