Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Legal separation in Indiana

Every once in a while I get asked about legal separation. In just over nineteen years of practice, I have filed only one petition for legal separation (Update 7/31-09: make that now two) Why so few? It seems when I finish explaining to the potential client what they get from a legal separation that they always ask me why they should want to go through all of that? My first legal separation case was converted to a divorce.

I think some people confuse separating from the spouse as part of the divorce with legal separation as separation as a kind of legal action. In a divorce, separation means the date that the parties split up and the date of separation has relevance to division of property. All which occurs before filing anything with a court.

Legal separation as a kind of legal action begins with filing a Petition for Legal Separation with a court. Most of the requirements parallel those of a dissolution petition (residency, for example), but there are three major differences:

  1. The marriage is not irretrievably broken but "conditions in or circumstances of the marriage make it currently intolerable for both parties to live together."
  2. Instead of the marriage being dissolved, "the marriage should be maintained."
  3. A legal separation is only effective for one year.
It always seems that the one period for a legal separation is where the potential client starts to see a drawback.

Such is legal separation in Indiana. The procedure does have its uses so long as its limitations are understood.

7/31/09: Since writing the above, I have written more about legal separation. Follow the link below that says "legal separation" or see here and here and here.

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