Legal separation can be difficult for most people to understand and with good reason. It can be very complex and the rules can change from state to state when comes to certain aspects, such as property rights. However, the key definition of the different types of separation are pretty much the same for each state. To understand what your specific legal needs are, you need to know what those types are.
A trial separation is the period you and your spouse decide to live apart from one another. During this time, you and your spouse can decide whether or not you want to move forward with a more legal solution or work things out.
During a trial separation, the assets that you and your spouse accumulate are usually considered to be marital property. The same holds true for debts. The separation does not require any legal moves on either party's side.
In the event that you and our spouse want a more legal separation of your time away from each other, you can file a petition with the court. The court will rule on the division of assets, debts, child custody, and financial support. It might seem like a divorce, but you and your spouse are actually still married.
The point of a legal separation is to give an official start date for the beginning of your time apart. This is important if you live in a state that requires you to live apart for a certain period of time before you can file for a divorce.
Legal separation is also important in helping to decide the division of marital property and assets. The agreement that you and your spouse make now could be used as framework for the divorce decree, if you file. You and your spouse will have an opportunity to learn what works and does not work.
If you and your spouse do not want a divorce, but have no plans to live together again, you can opt for a permanent separation. Once the petition for the separation has been accepted, all assets and debts that are created are considered separate.
For instance, if you take out a loan after the separation is filed, you are solely responsible for it. By the same token, if you open a business, your assets will be considered yours only.
If you are unsure which type of legal separation is best for you, you and your spouse should talk to a family lawyer. The lawyer can help you pinpoint your needs and file the necessary paperwork.