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Legal Separation

Unlike a divorce, a legal separation does not end a marriage. You can’t marry someone else if you are legally separated (and not divorced). A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and establish an agreement on financial responsibilities, property distribution, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer separation for religious reasons.

Such issues as spousal support, parenting arrangements, support of children, division of property and payment of debts may be addressed in a written agreement. When both parties agree on these issues, the legal separation is “uncontested.”

To obtain a legal separation, one or both parties (depending on options available in your state) will file all required paperwork with the appropriate court, beginning with a petition (or complaint). A legal separation is granted by a judge after the necessary paperwork has been submitted, any required waiting periods have lapsed and all appearances before the judge are completed. In some cases it is not necessary to be physically present in the court to get a legal separation.


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