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Initiating a legal separation, part 2

Every marriage has its peaks and valleys as partners do their best to share their lives. And with some luck and effort, couples are often able to weather their low points and stay together. But sometimes circumstances are such that splitting becomes a very real possibility. However, prior to taking the final and serious measure of divorce, couples may legally separate to get some perspective on the viability of remaining married.

Last week on this blog we briefly described the initial decisions that couples must make prior to filing for a legal separation. This week we look at the steps involved in legal separation, the first of which is the filing process. This involves making sure you are acting in accordance with residency requirements. Completing the filing phase requires that both you and your spouse are served with the pertinent documentation.

Next, you will be required to craft a separation agreement. This agreement typically contains details regarding such issues as child custody, and asset and liability division. Usually, an attorney is involved in the drafting of the separation agreement. Once the agreement is prepared and amenable, you and your spouse will each sign it. You can have a notary present at the signing if you so desire.

Lastly, a judge will have to give the agreement his or her approval. This will happen once the judge assesses the agreement and is satisfied that it was negotiated fairly and properly.

There are several benefits to having an experienced family law attorney help you with your legal separation. First, the attorney can help negotiate terms that you find acceptable and will meet with the judge's approval. Also, if you and your spouse should ultimately decide to divorce, the separation agreement could form the basis of a settlement. Having an attorney guide you through your separation could lessen the likelihood of future disputes.

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