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Legal Separation Information

Legal Separation FAQs

Many married couples separate when contemplating a permanent split or working toward eventual reconciliation. Legal separation, however, specifically refers to a court approved separation which defines legal rights and obligations, but doesn’t permanently end the marriage. Legal separation differs from more informal separation because a court must approve and order legal separation. It also differs from divorce because the marriage continues to exist after a legal separation.

Benefits of Legal Separation

Legal separation appeals to couples who don’t want to divorce, but who will live separately and want matters such as child support, child custody and property division clarified legally. The formalized separation typically applies to couples who foresee permanent separation, rather than a temporary trial separation. Common reasons a couple might wish to separate, rather than divorce, include the financial benefits of remaining married (such as tax incentives) and religious beliefs which may conflict with divorce. Additionally, couples can reap the benefits of legal clarity similar to divorce orders. Property rights between the two parties are divvied up, as are child custody, child support and spousal support rights and obligations. While couples can simply agree to such matters without court involvement, obtaining a court approved separation makes it easier to enforce these rights in case disputes arise. Grounds for legal separation typically mirror state grounds for divorce and can include the following: incompatibility, abandonment, adultery and cruelty. Just as in a divorce, the child custody, child support, and spousal support conditions can only be modified with court approval. A court approved separation doesn’t end a marriage. Though rights and obligations of each side are clarified under the separation order, the marriage still legally exists. For this reason, people who separate legally may not marry a new spouse without breaking bigamy laws. An advantage is that couples can easily return to life together should they decide to reconcile. Unlike a divorced couple, a couple who has formalized their separation and wants to get back together doesn’t need to get married again. Rather, they simply need to submit a request to resume the marriage to the court. On the other hand, should a couple decide to permanently end the marriage; a legal separation order greatly simplifies the divorce process. Many couples separate without the intention to permanently split. They may use a trial separation to work toward reconciliation, or decide to live in separate places. In these cases, legal rights and obligations regarding children, property and debts remain the same as they would in marriage. Issues such as division of marital property or what one spouse would owe in child support might be subject to agreement, but haven’t been resolved as they may be in a divorce or legal separation order. The grounds for legal separation vary between states, but some of the reasons for separation from your spouse are the same in all states.

Legal Separation Information

Knowing the grounds for legal separation will help you prepare your case so you can quickly get the paperwork completed and start the process towards divorce. While not all of the following reasons for legal separation are valid in all states, it will help you start thinking about your defense.
• Adultery: Your spouse had an extra-marital affair.
• Imprisonment: Your spouse is sent to prison for a certain amount of years (time of imprisonment for justification of legal separation depends on the state).
• Consanguinity: After marriage, you find out that you and your spouse are closely related.
• Bigamy: You find out that your spouse is still married, whether it is because he or she did not dissolve a marriage or lied and said the person died.
• Unsound Mind: The person was not of a sound mind when you got married (example of this is being intoxicated) or has a mental illness that affects his or her ability to stay in the marriage.
• Neglect: The spouse does not support the family in any way.
• Desertion: Your spouse has left you and has no intent on returning.
• Domestic violence: Harm or threat to harm a spouse. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse are grounds for legal separation.
• Fraud: You find out the person only married you for a specific reason such as getting into the Utah or take money from you.
• Impotence: You find out that your spouse cannot have children and you want children.
• Physical incapacity: Your spouse is unable or does not want to have sexual relations with you.
• Sexual transmitted disease: Your husband or wife has transmitted a sexual disease to you intentionally or unknowingly.
• Unreasonable behavior: Some states will allow legal separation for unreasonable behavior, which is determined on a case-by-case basis. Unreasonable behavior refers to behavior that either spouse cannot live with any longer.

Preparing Your Separation Case

When you appear before the judge, you will have to present proof of your reasons for a legal separation. You want to make sure you have what you need so you can convince the judge that you need a legal separation from your spouse. Collect paperwork for anything that has to do with what you will present. If you are victim of domestic violence and have a restraining order, this would be extremely helpful. If your spouse had an affair, any proof such as credit card bills, private investigator data, or photographs would help your case. If there is a mental or physical cause for your desire for legal separation, include medical reports, if possible. Using a lawyer to defend you can be helpful if your situation is a difficult one. Some people have it easy and both spouses agree to the separation. In other cases, only one spouse wants the legal separation so the other one has to work harder. A lawyer can help you gather proof and present it to the judge, which may improve your chances of the judge ruling in your favor. Separating from your spouse is difficult and is probably something you never wanted to happen. However, when your happiness and well-being are at stake it may be the only choice you have. Stay strong and understand that your reasons for the split are legitimate. You know things are not going well for you and your spouse. Your partner did seem stern, aloof and resentful that last time you spoke to each other. Like always you expect them to come around, let go of the steam and become their normal self with time. Instead, one day, you come home to find their clothes missing from their cupboards and a piece of paper on the dinner table- a divorce notice. It’s not uncommon that couples start to fight and make up fight and make up, until one day they fall apart for good. Don’t neglect your relationship issues, you never know, your relationship could be treading towards rocky roads too!

Reasons For Legal Separation

Infidelity, lack of communication, financial troubles, sparing sessions of sex and intimacy are some of the common reasons for divorce.
• Infidelity: Extra-marital affairs are responsible for the breakdown of most marriages that end in divorce. This is one of the most common causes of divorce. The reasons why people cheat aren’t as cut and dry as our anger may lead us to believe. Anger and resentment are common underlying reasons for cheating, along with differences in sexual appetite and lack of emotional intimacy. Infidelity often begins as a seemingly innocent friendship, “It starts as an emotional affair which later becomes a physical affair”. Infidelity is the number one reason for divorce.
• Money: Money makes people funny, or so the saying goes, and it’s true. Everything from different spending habits and financial goals to one spouse making considerably more money than the other, causing a power struggle can strain a marriage to the breaking point. Money really touches everything. It impacts people’s lives. Clearly, money and stress do seem to go hand in hand for many couples. Financial troubles can be categorized as one of the biggest causes of divorce, following infidelity, the number one reason for divorce.

• Lack of communication: Communication is crucial in marriage and not being able to communicate effectively quickly leads to resentment and frustration for both, impacting all aspects of a marriage. On the other hand, good communication is the foundation of a strong marriage. Yelling at your spouse, not talking enough throughout the day, making nasty comments to express yourself are all unhealthy methods of communication that need to be ditched in a marriage. Poor communication is one of the biggest reasons for divorce. Practicing mindful communication, to change age-old marriage mistakes, can be hard but its well worth the effort to improve and save your relationship.
• Constant arguing: From bickering about chores to arguing about the kids; incessant arguing kills many relationships. Couples who seem to keep having the same argument over again often do so because they feel they’re not being heard or appreciated. Many find it hard to see the other person’s point of view, which leads to a lot of arguments without ever coming to a resolution, which can ultimately be a cause of divorce.
• Weight gain: It may seem awfully superficial or unfair, but weight gain is one of the most common reasons for divorce. It may seem odd but weight gain is also one of the leading causes of divorce. In some cases a significant amount of weight gain causes the other spouse to become less physically attracted while for others, weight gain takes a toll on their self-esteem, which trickles into issues with intimacy and can even become a cause of divorce.
• Unrealistic expectations: It’s easy to go into a marriage with lofty expectations; expecting your spouse and the marriage to live up to your image of what they should be. These expectations can put a lot of strain on the other person, leaving you feeling let down and setting your spouse up for failure. Wrong expectation setting can become one of the reasons for divorce.
• Lack of intimacy: Not feeling connected to your partner can quickly ruin a marriage because it leaves couples feeling as though they’re living with a stranger or more like roommates than spouses. This can be from a lack of physical or emotional intimacy and isn’t always about sex. If you are constantly giving your spouse the cold shoulder, then know that over time it can become the ground for divorce. Ignoring your partner’s sexual needs is being called the number one cause of divorce in recent times. Making your relationship intimate and special is the responsibility of both partners. Practice little acts of kindness, appreciation and enjoy physical intimacy as much as possible to sweeten your relationship.
• Lack of equality: Lack of equality comes closely behind the number one cause of divorce, lack of intimacy, in recent times. When one partner feels that they take on more responsibility in the marriage, it can alter their view of the other person and lead to resentment. Resentment often snowballs to become one of the reasons for divorce, in fact; it is a leading cause of divorce. Every couple must negotiate through their own and unique set of challenges, and find their own way of living together as two equals who enjoy a respectful, harmonious and joyful relationship.
• Not being prepared for marriage: A surprising number of couples of all ages have blamed not being prepared for married life for the demise of their relationship. Divorce rates are highest among couples in their 20s. Lack of preparation is one of the most common reasons for divorce. Almost half the divorces occur in the first 10 years of marriage, especially between the fourth and eighth anniversary.
• Abuse: Physical or emotional abuse is a sad reality for some couples. It doesn’t always stem from the abuser being a “bad” person; deep emotional issues are usually to blame. Regardless of the reason, no one should tolerate abuse and be removing yourself from the relationship safely is important.

Free Consultation with a Legal Separation Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law, or legal separation in Utah, or if you need to start or defend against a divorce or legal separation, please call Ascent Law LLC (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