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What Does Being Separated Mean?

It’s not an uncommon scenario in a marriage for two people to realize that they are no longer in love or that they have grown apart and the relationship is no longer working for them. Some couples may immediately seek a divorce, whereas others may consider separation as a way to “take a break.” But what does being separated really mean?

Separation is not the same as divorce. To distinguish the difference, we must remember that a marriage is a legal contract between two people. Historically, marriages were arranged, and their purpose was to create relationships that benefited a family through exchanges of property, money, and titles. A divorce dissolves a marriage legally and voids the contractual obligations between the parties. A separation, however, means that while the two parties may not be “together,” the legal contract between them is still valid.

There are three types of separations:

  • In a trial separation, couples typically live separately while deciding whether or not to get a divorce. The possibility of reconciliation may be on the table, and couples may choose to live apart, seek counseling, or work towards independence from their spouse. During a trial separation, you are still legally married to your spouse, and all marital property laws still If you and your spouse decide on a trial separation, it is a good idea to write down a separation agreement between you. This agreement is informal and not legally binding, but it can influence court decisions during divorce proceedings if you and your spouse decide to end your marriage. Statistics show that almost half of all first marriages end in divorce and that 87% of couples ultimately choose divorce after a separation.*
  • Permanent separation is when you and your spouse separate and live apart but have no intentions of reconciliation. There are various reasons people may choose to be permanently separated, including insurance and property rights. Laws involving property rights and obligations during a permanent separation vary from state to state, but usually, each spouse is responsible for their own debts and assets once they are It is also important to note that you cannot remarry without first seeking a divorce because you are still legally married to your spouse.
  • A legal separation is very similar to a divorce. It is a court process in which property you address rights and custody issues, but you are still legally married to your spouse. Again, you will not be able to remarry without first seeking a legal divorce.

If you are considering a separation or divorce, you should speak with an attorney to have a complete understanding of which option may be the best for your situation. Please contact our Akron divorce attorneys to make an appointment to discuss your situation. If you have already been served with divorce papers by your spouse, you need to retain an attorney immediately, as you need to meet court-required deadlines.  Call us at 330-922-4491 or contact us online to schedule you for an initial consultation immediately.