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Choosing Between Separation and Divorce

Choosing Between Separation and Divorce

A legal separation can be the answer for couples having marital problems but not yet ready for divorce, but the decision to legally separate rather than divorce can be quite complex.

Things to consider

An Ohio separation agreement and a divorce have many things in common but there are some benefits to separating. These include the following:

  • No residency requirements. Unlike divorce filings in Ohio, a legal separation does not require a six-month minimum residency in order to file.
  • Allows couples time apart, away from the conflict of the marriage. This gives couples time to consider whether divorce is what they truly want.
  • May allow for the retention of benefits. Includes medical benefits and certain other benefits that divorce would bring to an end. Remaining married for 10 years or more also allows a spouse to take advantage of certain social security or military benefits that would otherwise be lost.
  • Accommodates religious restrictions. If your religious beliefs don’t permit divorce, you will still be able to live separately while retaining your marital status.
  • Does not rule out divorce. If the decision to divorce is made, the legal separation agreement can be converted into a divorce settlement agreement.

A legal separation must be filed in the Domestic Division or General Division of the court to be legally binding. It is an agreement between you and your spouse to resolve issues such as the division of assets and debt, alimony/spousal support, child support, custody and visitation. Through a legal separation (only if by agreement), a couple, not a court, decides how they will manage a wide range of issues affecting their daily lives while living apart. For example, couples can agree not to harass or interfere with each other.

The details of separation can be complex and emotional. Weigh your options carefully and consult with an experienced attorney, so you can make smart choices that will legally protect you while living apart.

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