Following are the questions we see most often about legal separation. If you have any questions about whether a legal separation is right for you, contact our office at (860) 986-1141 today for a free consultation.
What Is Legal Separation?
Legal separation is a tool couples can use to divest themselves of the rights and obligations of cohabitation. According to CT statues, “A decree of legal separation shall have the effect of a decree dissolving marriage except that neither party shall be free to marry.”
The couple is still married when a judgment of legal separation is submitted to the court but they no longer have certain legal obligations to each other. For example, if a couple is legally separated and one spouse runs up high credit card debt, the spouse they are legally separated from cannot be held responsible for that debt.
How Do You Get Legally Separated?
The procedures for starting and completing an action for a legal separation are identical to those required for a divorce. Getting a legal separation is typically not any faster or easier than obtaining a divorce.
Orders of property division, alimony, child support and custody are available in a legal separation as they are in a divorce case. A court will typically respect the financial orders entered as part of the judgment of legal separation and not change these when converting the Legal Separation to Dissolution of Marriage. However, the court also has the power to disregard all or part of the legal separation financial orders if it determines that due to changed circumstances, such orders are no longer fair and equitable.
What Are the Benefits of Legal Separation?
Legal separation can have many benefits over divorce:
- Income Taxes - Legally separated spouses are treated as single for federal tax purposes and the ability to file taxes as single or “head of household” can save a lot of money in taxes.
- Medical Insurance Benefits - Some plans allow for continuance of medical benefits, however not all. Verify with your insurance plan if this is the case. Just as in divorce cases, Cobra benefits may be available if legal separation terminates medical insurance benefits.
- Retirement Benefits – Legal separation enables you to stay married long enough to meet 10 year deadline to receive certain social security or military pension benefits.
- Reconciliation - If you have any doubts at all about wanting divorce, legal separation can help give you the space you need to figure out whether or not there’s a chance for this relationship to work.
What if We Decide to Reconcile?
Legally separated spouses may reconcile, resume their marital relationship and have the legal separation terminated by filing a declaration of resumption (of marital relations) with the court.
When Does a Legal Separation Become a Divorce?
A legal separation becomes a divorce when by filing with the court a motion to convert a legal separation to dissolution of marriage.