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Separation is a vague term. It’s used in all sorts of different ways. There are numerous types of separations. It’s important to know the differences – because the type of separation you choose can impact things like property rights. It can also impact whether you can get a divorce or not. The following is an overview of the types of separations. Each state has different rules. In some states, you have to be separated in order to qualify for a divorce.
Trial Separation: When couples live apart for a test period, and decide at that point whether or not to separate permanently, it’s called a trial separation. Even if the spouses don’t get back together. The assets and debt accumulated are considered marital property. This means this type of separation isn’t legally recognized.
Living Apart: Spouses who don’t live in the same house are said to be living apart. In some states, living apart without eventually intending on reuniting changes your property rights. In some states, property and debt accumulated when living apart are considered to be separate property. In other states, property is considered joint until a divorce complaint is filed. In some states, couples MUST live apart for a period of time before you can file a no-fault divorce.
Permanent Separation: If a couple decides to split permanently – it’s called a permanent separation. This often comes after a trial separation, or can begin right after a couple start living apart. In most states, any assets and debts incurred during this phase are the property + responsibility of the spouse who incurred them. Debts which happen after the separation, and before the divorce, are considered joint debts.
Legal separation: This is a type of separation that happens when both parties separate, and the court decides on a division of things like property rights, child support, visitation rights, and everything else – but doesn’t grant a divorce. This isn’t very common – but some people have religious reasons, or financial reason, for not wanting a divorce. But they want a court order that addresses all the issues which would be handled in a divorce.
Divorce is a huge decision, and you shouldn’t make it quickly. Divorce can change not only your life – but the life of your children. 1 in 2 marriages end in marriage. Before you consider divorce, speak to your family, speak to your religious leader, and try to get counseling. The best thing possible is to remain married or try to work out a compromise with your spouse.
Divorce cases can be emotionally draining. It’s a good idea to get counseling and support before, and during, the process. You shouldn’t want for your spouse to participate in counseling. You may even want to get individual counseling for yourself. It’s a good idea to try to de-escalate the issues as much as possible. When you’re separated – it’s a good time to get counseling with yourself, and your kids. In some states, where there is a no-fault divorce provision, or where you can file divorce for “irreconcilable differences,” it can be easy to file a divorce – and tempting. You should do your best to work it out first. In the event you have a legitimate reason for divorce, such as spousal abuse, or something else – you should get immediate legal help.