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 Common Questions Regarding Divorce

Common Questions Regarding Divorce

Am I legally separated? When can I get a divorce? How will we resolve issues related to children and finances? There are many different questions that people ask their lawyer while going through a divorce. 

Potential clients often call divorce lawyers requesting advice on “making their separation legal.” It seems to be a common myth that spouses can’t be “legally separated” without a written document. This isn’t true. In the eyes of the law, spouses’ separation occurs when the spouses begin to live separately and apart from one another (e.g. one spouse moves out of the marital home), and there is intent on the part of at least one spouse to end the marital relationship. In some jurisdictions, spouses cannot continue to live under the same roof, even if they are in separate bedrooms, and still be separated under the eyes of the law. 

The Waiting Period

When these two conditions occur, physical separation and intent to terminate the marriage, parties are separated and the one-year waiting period required before a divorce begins. Neither party can file for divorce until the 366th day after the period of separation begins. Once a spouse files for divorce, the process of obtaining a divorce judgment is usually complete within about two months. This can include the wife’s resumption of her maiden name if applicable. With the assistance of an attorney, it is usually unnecessary for either spouse to come to court or for any type of hearing to be held on the issue. The clerk of court will charge the filing party a fee of $225. There will be a small additional charge for resumption of a maiden name. 

Consulting with a Divorce Lawyer

There are many reasons to consult with a family law lawyer regarding a separation agreement prior to being eligible for a divorce. Separation agreements are contracts between spouses determining their rights and responsibilities after separation. The completion of an absolute divorce terminates the ability of a spouse to make certain claims such as equitable distribution or alimony. Therefore, it is important to seek guidance on these issues as soon as possible and definitely prior to seeking a divorce. 

Separation agreements deal with common issues related to the termination of a marriage such as equitable distribution (property division), alimony (spousal support), child custody, and child support. Although these issues can be dealt with in court, separation agreements allow parties to reduce an agreement to a binding contract in a way that is confidential, more amicable, and much less expensive than having a judge decide. It also puts the parties in control of the settlement as opposed to an unfamiliar third party. 

Top Rated Divorce Lawyers

Before meeting with a lawyer, it is helpful to gather as much financial information as possible. If you have a household budget or a list of assets and debts, bring it with you. 

Look for upcoming posts exploring the purposes of separation agreements in more detail or contact divorce lawyers, like those at Garrett, Walker, Aycoth & Olson, Attorneys at Law, for more information.