Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

How Does A Legal Separation Work?

How Does A Legal Separation Work

You cannot explain the unpredictability of life. So are marriages. In one instance, you are happily married, and you are certain that you will live happily till eternity but then, life happens, and for one reason or the other, you cannot stand each other. If this situation looks a lot like your life, know this, you are not alone, and you may be able to salvage your marriage. If this happens and you live in the state of Utah, you are lucky because you can have some thinking time as you determine what will happen to your marriage. The family law court in Utah lets you file for temporary separation when you need space. In Utah, married parties can file for a temporary separation without filing for divorce, and then obtain temporary orders like the ones which might be entered in a divorce hearing. To get the temporary separation, the parties must be legally married, and both parties have to have residency in the state of Utah for at least ninety (90) days prior to the application. For processing of the temporary separation, the petition has to be filed and served upon the opposing party, along with a twenty-one day summon. As the filing party or the petitioner, you have to take divorce orientation classes (not the same as the divorce education classes) within sixty (60) days of filing the petition. On the other hand, the respondent must take the same divorce orientation class within forty-five (45) days after the court serves them with the petition.

Duration of the temporary separation

This form of Marital Separation Agreement in Utah can last for up to one year; or until the case gets dismissed. It can also last up to the time it gets consolidated with a divorce case. For consolidation of separation and divorce, either party can file a petition for a divorce. To file for a temporary separation, you have to pay a filing fee of. This amount may then get credited to the high fees involved in filing a divorce. The filing fee for divorce is 0, plus needed for the vital statistics form. If the divorce is filed and the cases consolidated, the temporary separation orders remain temporary orders applicable in the divorce case.

A legal separation agreement is a legal document signed by both spouses that details such issues as child custody, spousal support, and living arrangements. In some states, legal advice is required to make a separation agreement legally binding. Your attorney will make application to the court so that a judge can sign your separation agreement. Some states don’t recognize a legal separation. If you come to an agreement in one of these states with your spouse without making it being court ordered, you will have no legal protection under the law should your spouse decide not to follow the agreement.

Benefits to Legal Separation

Pursuing legal separation comes with benefits to ease tension. Living apart gives a couple the opportunities to work on their marriage. A spouse and children can also remain on the working spouse’s healthcare plan. Under legal separation, the marriage can be extended to the 10-year mark, so the less-earning spouse can draw on the other spouse’s social security. Staying married but legally separated means the couple can take advantage of certain income tax benefits, including possible increases in deductions. If divorce is against a couple’s religious beliefs, a legal separation can allow them to live separately and not jeopardize their values. If you are moving out, be sure your name is removed from any rental leases. If your spouse doesn’t pay the rent, you don’t want to be held accountable. When you move out, have your mail forward to your new address or post office box. When it comes to finances, be sure to keep a copy of all addresses, phone numbers, and account information on mortgages, bank accounts, and credit accounts. Have your name removed from any accounts that you no longer want to be responsible for. Put a freeze on all joint bank and credit accounts if you can’t get your spouse to agree to have your name removed. Until the accounts are frozen, you are still legally responsible if they are in both your name and your spouse’s name. It is not unusual for a divorce judgment to award separated spouses the personal property that is in their own possession. If there are important belongings that you leave with your spouse upon separation, you should specify in your separation agreement that those things come to you if you should divorce.

How To File For A Legal Separation

After making the decision to split, many women wonder how to file for a legal separation and what needs to be included in the separation agreement. Before you get started, you need to understand that a separation agreement is a legally binding contract. Therefore, you should put just as much thought into your legal separation as you would any divorce agreements. Most importantly, not all states have laws specifically addressing the concept of a legal separation.. To be sure that all your bases are covered, your separation agreement should contain provisions for the division of property and liability for debts, address how child custody and visitation will be handled, set the amount of temporary child support or alimony to be paid, and any other details that need to be worked out. Once all the necessary paperwork is filled out, the petition will need to be served on your husband, unless both of you are filing jointly. After your husband is served with the petition, he will need to respond within a certain period of time. If both parties agree to the provisions of the separation agreement, all that is needed is the notarized signatures of both spouses so that it can be presented to the court for approval. If one spouse doesn’t agree with the provisions, a counter-petition can be filed. At this stage, it is best to work out disagreements privately, or with the use of a mediator. If an agreement can’t be reached, the matter will need to go before a judge to settle everything. Once everything is settled, the parties need to sign the separation agreement so that it can be submitted to a judge for review and signing. The final document will then be filed with the county clerk. At this time, you should request official copies for both you and your spouse. It’s important to note that in many states, it is possible to convert a legal into a divorce decree at a later time. Since there are time limits in some states, you should contact a lawyer to find out what the specifics are in your state.

Whether a couple can file for legal separation depends on state law. In those states that make legal separation available, the process is often similar to divorce. The couple can enter into their own separation agreement or let the court resolve their marital issues, such as property division and child custody. Once a separation decree is issued, the spouses’ lives are officially separate. For spouses who later decide to divorce, they can often convert their legal separations into a divorce. Although state laws vary, after filing a petition for legal separation in local court, the next step is to notify the other spouse. This is known as service of process. Typically, this responsibility falls on the petitioner — the spouse filing for legal separation. Generally, the petitioner can have legal separation paperwork served by a process server, local sheriff or other adult who is not a party to the case. If the spouses filed a joint petition for legal separation, they might be able to skip this step, depending on the laws of the state. Once the respondent spouse receives the legal separation paperwork, he is usually required to submit a response to the court within a set period of time. In his response, he can notify the court of his agreement or disagreement with the separation terms requested by his spouse, such as property division, child support and custody. If the respondent fails to answer the separation petition, the court is likely to enter a default judgment of separation in favor of the filing spouse. This means she is likely to receive everything she requested in her petition.

Separation Agreement

If both spouses are in agreement with the terms of their separation, such as how they will split property and whether one or both parents will provide a home for the children and make decisions concerning their upbringing, the spouses can enter into a separation agreement. If approved by the court, the terms are incorporated into a separation decree, becoming a court order legally enforceable against both spouses. Spouses who live in states that do not offer legal separation, can also enter into such agreements; however, these agreements are typically treated as private contracts and not converted into court orders. If a couple is unable to reach an agreement, the terms of separation are left up to the court to decide. However, some courts may require the spouses to participate in mediation before the court determines the terms of the separation. As with a divorce, courts decide marital issues based on state law. To determine property division, courts follow either the community property or equitable distribution method. In community property states, the court divides marital property equally between spouses. Equitable distribution states divide marital property in a manner that is fair and just, but not necessarily equal. If spouses have children, the court will also determine legal and physical custody, which it may award to one or both spouses. Physical custody is the right to provide a home for a child and legal custody is the right to make important decisions about his upbringing, such as religion and education.

The court will choose the custody arrangement that serves the best interests of the child. In addition to property and custody issues, the court also establishes child support and spousal support orders if necessary. After a couple is granted a legal separation, many states will allow them to convert the separation into a divorce if they later decide they want to terminate the marriage. However, some states may place limitations on legal separations. For example, in Utah, legal separations only last for one year. Therefore, a separation must be converted into a divorce within that time. Fees and other costs are inevitably part of divorce. The fees vary by each state and county court; in addition, legal fees charged by attorneys for assistance with the filing vary widely. If the divorce is contested, or if you have to negotiate terms, the time and money it takes to complete the process will increase. There are a number of circumstances in which individuals obtain a marital separation agreement. There are instances in which a couple will elect to agree to a marital separation agreement because they want to obtain all of the benefits of a divorce but do not want to actually terminate their marriage. Some couples will elect to enter into a marital separation agreement because of religious beliefs, if the couple is part of a religion that frowns on divorce. In such a case, a marital separation agreement allows these individuals to deal with property; child custody and all other issues associated with what otherwise would be a divorce case without the marriage being dissolved.

In circumstances in which a couple has entered into a stand-alone marital separation agreement, that agreement will last indefinitely. It will remain in effect unless and until the couple decides to reunite or divorce. Beyond a stand-alone marital separation agreement there are also marital separation agreements that are part of an overall divorce case. This type of marital separation agreement actually is referred to by a number of different names, including temporary separation agreement or preliminary separation agreement. This type of marital separation agreement is a temporary contract between a married couple that stays in force until a final divorce decree is granted. The length of time that this type of marital separation agreement remains in effect depends on how long the divorce proceedings last. Typically, a temporary marital separation agreement will last anywhere from 90 days until over a year–again, depending on how long it takes for a divorce case to be finalized. In many cases, a marital separation agreement is a voluntary contract between the parties to a divorce. However, if the couple cannot agree on the terms and conditions of a marital separation agreement, the court will issue a temporary marital separation order. If the court issues an order, it is within the power of the judge to set a time in the future (commonly 60 days) in which the order will be reviewed and reconsidered by the court.

Elements of Marital Separation Agreement

A marital separation agreement will contain a specific set of provisions. It will deal with financial issues including which party will be responsible for which of the debts accumulated during the marriage. The agreement will also set forth which party will be entitled to certain assets obtained during the marriage. Such an agreement will delineate who will have primary custody of any minor children born of the marriage. Parenting time or visitation will also be established within the confines of a marital separation agreement. In dealing with issues pertaining to child custody and parenting time or visitation, there can be certain time frames established and contained within the agreement. For example, although the agreement itself may not have a specific time frame in which it will last, there can be milestones in which certain alterations of custody or parenting time arrangements will be altered or adjusted. Because of the importance of a marital separation agreement–including the length of time in which it will remain in effect–a couple interested in entering into such an agreement needs to give serious consideration to engaging the services of a qualified and experienced attorney (or attorneys–one for each person in a marriage). By obtaining appropriate legal advice and representation you will be in the best position to ensure that you will be able to enter into a suitable and effective marital separation agreement.

Legal Separation Attorney Free Consultation

When you need to file for legal separation in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506