If you are legally married, you and your spouse are partners in the eyes of the law. You cannot just sever this partnership without taking some type of official action. For most couples, divorce is the action taken to end their marriage. In some cases, however, a couple will choose legal separation instead.
There are important differences between legal separation and divorce and you need to understand what the differences are so you can make an informed choice about which option is the right one for your marriage. An experienced Charleston, SC divorce attorney at Kuhn & Kuhn, LLC can provide you with information on the differences between legal separation and divorce and can offer you guidance throughout the process of ending your relationship. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.
Understanding the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce
There are many differences between legal separation and divorce. For example:
- When a couple divorces, they are required to file separate tax returns with each spouse listed as single. If a couple is separated, they are required to file tax returns as married. They may file the returns as married filing separately but cannot claim to be single on their returns.
- When a couple divorces, their marriage is ended permanently. If they wish to resume living as husband and wife, they must get a new marriage license and legally remarry. If a couple is legally separated and wishes to begin living together again, there is no formal process required to remarry.
- When a couple divorces, each spouse is free to get remarried to someone else. If the spouses are legally separated, neither is free to marry anyone else because they are still considered to be married to each other.
Legal separation is not necessary as a step leading up to divorce. Many couples will informally separate, or live in different homes, during the weeks or months that lead up to ending their marriage. However, in a limited number of cases, a couple will decide to go through the process of a legal separation. Essentially, this means that a separation agreement will be created and go into effect.
Typically, a couple will consider a legal separation if they need guidance or assistance from the court during a divorce process. For example, if a stay-at-home parent needs to compel the other spouse to provide financial support during the process of a divorce so the parent can continue to care for the child, a legal separation agreement may be appropriate. If one parent is refusing to allow the other access to the children after a separation, a legal separation agreement may become necessary that includes a temporary custody order.
Knowing the differences between legal separation and divorce allows you to choose whether you need to go through the process of legal separation or not. If you want to simply live separately from your spouse and move towards divorce, this is an option for you. However, once you have decided that your marriage needs to be permanently over, you will need to go through the process of divorce.
An experienced Charleston, SC divorce lawyer can help with a separation or a divorce. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.