What Is A Legal Separation?
In a Legal Separation of the parties the Court does not end the marriage, but the filing of an action for Legal Separation does invoke the jurisdiction of the Court to declare the parties to be "legally" separate. The law provides certain "grounds" which a party must have before filing for a Legal Separation. These "grounds" are much the same as those necessary for the granting of a divorce.
In a Legal Separation action, the Court will divide the parties' property and debt as it would in an action for Divorce. Once the parties are granted a "Legal Separation" by the Court, their rights and obligations in relation to each other have been determined and their ownership of property and responsibility for debts is also determined. The parties are still married and each of them can still be considered the "spouse" of the other for insurance purposes. The filing of an action for Legal Separation by a party does not prevent the other party from filing a counter-claim for a Divorce. The granting of a Legal Separation to the parties also does not prevent them from later ending their marriage through a Divorce or Dissolution.
The Court must issue an Order that the parties are Legally Separated before the parties are considered to actually have a "Legal Separation." Note: Writing and signing a "Separation Agreement" does not make the parties "Legally Separated."
Grounds for the obtaining of a decree of Legal Separation are:
- Either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which the Legal Separation is sought
- Willful absence of the adverse party for one year
- Extreme Cruelty
- Fraudulent Contract
- Any gross neglect of duty
- Habitual drunkenness
- Imprisonment of the adverse party in a state or federal correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint
- On the application of either party, when husband and wife have, without interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation
- Incompatibility, unless denied by either part
If you have questions about a legal seperation or other Family Law matters, give us a call at: (513) 668-4249