All marriages have their share of ups and downs, highs and lows. And there are also times when all the couple wants is to be away from each other. Casual separation may help if you’re unsure about your marriage yet open to resolving issues. Although, at this point couples usually know whether they can stay together or they’re ready to go their separate ways. And divorce is the first thing that comes to mind in such situations. However, divorce isn’t the only way of separating for married couples. When you don’t want a divorce for any reason and are looking for alternatives, you can consider legal separation as an option.
What Is Legal Separation?
Separation usually means that the couple consciously chooses to live apart. Legal separation however, is more than physical separation from your spouse. It is a legally valid marital status granted and acknowledged by the court. The process of legal separation in Oklahoma involves filing a petition after which the court will look into your marital issues like division of assets, alimony, child support, etc. If you and your spouse are unable to come to terms regarding these issues, the court will resolve it based on its vast discretion in the matter before granting separation.
What to Expect In Legal Separation?
Similar to getting a divorce, legal separation too involves resolving marital issues by coming to an understanding. And if the couple is unable to do so, the court intervenes and resolves it for them. These issues are:
- Division of Property
When the two parties cannot come to an agreement regarding equitable division of property, the court intervenes. However, the court’s ideas of equitable division may differ from your own.
- Spousal Support/Alimony
Alimony is allocated based on the couple’s circumstances and the court’s discretion. This means support is granted if the spouse receiving alimony genuinely needs it and the one giving is financially capable of doing so.
- Child Custody and Support
In Oklahoma, a specific calculation based on the details of the legal separation and the couple’s unique circumstances determines which party will pay the child support.
Benefits of Legal Separation
Some couples find legal separation as more beneficial or suitable compared to a divorce for the following reasons:
- Alternative to Divorce for Religious Reasons
More often than not, the couples opting for legal separation are sure that they want to end their marriage but are against divorce due to religious reasons. In such cases, a separation helps them move forward with their lives individually.
- Time for Re-evaluation of Marriage
In many cases, the separating couple is willing to give the marriage some time. Legal separation helps them take some time away from each other and see what a divorce would feel like and whether they really want a divorce.
- Monetary Benefits
Separation presents some monetary benefits for couples unwilling to stay together but still needing the cover of marriage. For example, a spouse may remain on the other’s insurance as a spouse, file taxes together, get tax benefits, and even file for bankruptcy together. A separation can also offer one spouse the chance to get back up on his or her feet financially.
The key difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that you remain legally married. This simple fact has many significant implications. Neither party may lawfully remarry unless they return to court for a divorce. Whatever your marital situation, legal separation is not something that should be entered into lightly. If you’re seriously considering legal separation, it is better to get the professional counsel of an experienced attorney.