In certain situations where absolute divorce is not desired, limited divorce may be an alternative. Also known as legal separation, a limited divorce means that spouses no longer live together but remain married to each other. Some couples decide to legally separate on a trial basis to determine whether divorce is the best solution to their marital difficulties. It is advisable to speak with a divorce attorney if you are going through a separation or divorce to ensure that you are aware of your legal rights.
The two most common alternatives to divorce are annulment and separation. Rather than ending a marriage, an annulment treats the marriage as though it never existed in the first place. Some couples choose annulment for religious reasons or because they do not want to be divorced. Annulments are most common among couples that have not been married very long. This is because annulments are primarily concerned with absolving marriages built on deception or misrepresentation. For example, if one spouse lies about his or her age or fails to disclose a known inability to have children, an annulment may be granted.
Types of Separation
Separation occurs when a couple chooses to live apart without getting divorced. There are several types of separation:
- Trial separation – when a couple is unsure as to whether or not they want to permanently separate, they may choose to undergo a trial separation. During this time, they live apart, but their assets and debts are still considered mutual.
- Permanent separation – in a permanent separation, the couple has already made a decision not to get back together. They are actively choosing to live apart. Therefore, any material gains and losses are the individual’s rather than the couple’s responsibility.
- Legal separation – when a couple decides to separate permanently, they may choose to become legally separated. This means that a court decides how property and possession are divided and makes decisions about child custody, child support, and alimony.
In some states, couples are required to separate for months before a no-fault divorce can be granted. Undergoing a legal separation involves taking many of the steps required for absolute divorce. It is more common for those in troubled marriages to have an informal trial separation, but this requires some cooperation to create a suitable working arrangement.
For more specific divorce advice that applies to your situation, please contact a divorce lawyer today. The attorneys in our national network are experienced with divorce procedures and can help you obtain a fair settlement.