Legal Separation Information

Legal Separation FAQs

Many married couples separate when contemplating a permanent split or working toward eventual reconciliation. Legal separation, however, specifically refers to a court approved separation which defines legal rights and obligations, but doesn’t permanently end the marriage. Legal separation differs from more informal separation because a court must approve and order legal separation. It also differs from divorce because the marriage continues to exist after a legal separation.

Benefits of Legal Separation

Legal separation appeals to couples who don’t want to divorce, but who will live separately and want matters such as child support, child custody and property division clarified legally. The formalized separation typically applies to couples who foresee permanent separation, rather than a temporary trial separation. Common reasons a couple might wish to separate, rather than divorce, include the financial benefits of remaining married (such as tax incentives) and religious beliefs which may conflict with divorce. Additionally, couples can reap the benefits of legal clarity similar to divorce orders. Property rights between the two parties are divvied up, as are child custody, child support and spousal support rights and obligations. While couples can simply agree to such matters without court involvement, obtaining a court approved separation makes it easier to enforce these rights in case disputes arise. Grounds for legal separation typically mirror state grounds for divorce and can include the following: incompatibility, abandonment, adultery and cruelty. Just as in a divorce, the child custody, child support, and spousal support conditions can only be modified with court approval. A court approved separation doesn’t end a marriage. Though rights and obligations of each side are clarified under the separation order, the marriage still legally exists. For this reason, people who separate legally may not marry a new spouse without breaking bigamy laws. An advantage is that couples can easily return to life together should they decide to reconcile. Unlike a divorced couple, a couple who has formalized their separation and wants to get back together doesn’t need to get married again. Rather, they simply need to submit a request to resume the marriage to the court. On the other hand, should a couple decide to permanently end the marriage; a legal separation order greatly simplifies the divorce process. Many couples separate without the intention to permanently split. They may use a trial separation to work toward reconciliation, or decide to live in separate places. In these cases, legal rights and obligations regarding children, property and debts remain the same as they would in marriage. Issues such as division of marital property or what one spouse would owe in child support might be subject to agreement, but haven’t been resolved as they may be in a divorce or legal separation order. The grounds for legal separation vary between states, but some of the reasons for separation from your spouse are the same in all states.

Legal Separation Information

Knowing the grounds for legal separation will help you prepare your case so you can quickly get the paperwork completed and start the process towards divorce. While not all of the following reasons for legal separation are valid in all states, it will help you start thinking about your defense.
• Adultery: Your spouse had an extra-marital affair.
• Imprisonment: Your spouse is sent to prison for a certain amount of years (time of imprisonment for justification of legal separation depends on the state).
• Consanguinity: After marriage, you find out that you and your spouse are closely related.
• Bigamy: You find out that your spouse is still married, whether it is because he or she did not dissolve a marriage or lied and said the person died.
• Unsound Mind: The person was not of a sound mind when you got married (example of this is being intoxicated) or has a mental illness that affects his or her ability to stay in the marriage.
• Neglect: The spouse does not support the family in any way.
• Desertion: Your spouse has left you and has no intent on returning.
• Domestic violence: Harm or threat to harm a spouse. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse are grounds for legal separation.
• Fraud: You find out the person only married you for a specific reason such as getting into the Utah or take money from you.
• Impotence: You find out that your spouse cannot have children and you want children.
• Physical incapacity: Your spouse is unable or does not want to have sexual relations with you.
• Sexual transmitted disease: Your husband or wife has transmitted a sexual disease to you intentionally or unknowingly.
• Unreasonable behavior: Some states will allow legal separation for unreasonable behavior, which is determined on a case-by-case basis. Unreasonable behavior refers to behavior that either spouse cannot live with any longer.

Preparing Your Separation Case

When you appear before the judge, you will have to present proof of your reasons for a legal separation. You want to make sure you have what you need so you can convince the judge that you need a legal separation from your spouse. Collect paperwork for anything that has to do with what you will present. If you are victim of domestic violence and have a restraining order, this would be extremely helpful. If your spouse had an affair, any proof such as credit card bills, private investigator data, or photographs would help your case. If there is a mental or physical cause for your desire for legal separation, include medical reports, if possible. Using a lawyer to defend you can be helpful if your situation is a difficult one. Some people have it easy and both spouses agree to the separation. In other cases, only one spouse wants the legal separation so the other one has to work harder. A lawyer can help you gather proof and present it to the judge, which may improve your chances of the judge ruling in your favor. Separating from your spouse is difficult and is probably something you never wanted to happen. However, when your happiness and well-being are at stake it may be the only choice you have. Stay strong and understand that your reasons for the split are legitimate. You know things are not going well for you and your spouse. Your partner did seem stern, aloof and resentful that last time you spoke to each other. Like always you expect them to come around, let go of the steam and become their normal self with time. Instead, one day, you come home to find their clothes missing from their cupboards and a piece of paper on the dinner table- a divorce notice. It’s not uncommon that couples start to fight and make up fight and make up, until one day they fall apart for good. Don’t neglect your relationship issues, you never know, your relationship could be treading towards rocky roads too!

Reasons For Legal Separation

Infidelity, lack of communication, financial troubles, sparing sessions of sex and intimacy are some of the common reasons for divorce.
• Infidelity: Extra-marital affairs are responsible for the breakdown of most marriages that end in divorce. This is one of the most common causes of divorce. The reasons why people cheat aren’t as cut and dry as our anger may lead us to believe. Anger and resentment are common underlying reasons for cheating, along with differences in sexual appetite and lack of emotional intimacy. Infidelity often begins as a seemingly innocent friendship, “It starts as an emotional affair which later becomes a physical affair”. Infidelity is the number one reason for divorce.
• Money: Money makes people funny, or so the saying goes, and it’s true. Everything from different spending habits and financial goals to one spouse making considerably more money than the other, causing a power struggle can strain a marriage to the breaking point. Money really touches everything. It impacts people’s lives. Clearly, money and stress do seem to go hand in hand for many couples. Financial troubles can be categorized as one of the biggest causes of divorce, following infidelity, the number one reason for divorce.

• Lack of communication: Communication is crucial in marriage and not being able to communicate effectively quickly leads to resentment and frustration for both, impacting all aspects of a marriage. On the other hand, good communication is the foundation of a strong marriage. Yelling at your spouse, not talking enough throughout the day, making nasty comments to express yourself are all unhealthy methods of communication that need to be ditched in a marriage. Poor communication is one of the biggest reasons for divorce. Practicing mindful communication, to change age-old marriage mistakes, can be hard but its well worth the effort to improve and save your relationship.
• Constant arguing: From bickering about chores to arguing about the kids; incessant arguing kills many relationships. Couples who seem to keep having the same argument over again often do so because they feel they’re not being heard or appreciated. Many find it hard to see the other person’s point of view, which leads to a lot of arguments without ever coming to a resolution, which can ultimately be a cause of divorce.
• Weight gain: It may seem awfully superficial or unfair, but weight gain is one of the most common reasons for divorce. It may seem odd but weight gain is also one of the leading causes of divorce. In some cases a significant amount of weight gain causes the other spouse to become less physically attracted while for others, weight gain takes a toll on their self-esteem, which trickles into issues with intimacy and can even become a cause of divorce.
• Unrealistic expectations: It’s easy to go into a marriage with lofty expectations; expecting your spouse and the marriage to live up to your image of what they should be. These expectations can put a lot of strain on the other person, leaving you feeling let down and setting your spouse up for failure. Wrong expectation setting can become one of the reasons for divorce.
• Lack of intimacy: Not feeling connected to your partner can quickly ruin a marriage because it leaves couples feeling as though they’re living with a stranger or more like roommates than spouses. This can be from a lack of physical or emotional intimacy and isn’t always about sex. If you are constantly giving your spouse the cold shoulder, then know that over time it can become the ground for divorce. Ignoring your partner’s sexual needs is being called the number one cause of divorce in recent times. Making your relationship intimate and special is the responsibility of both partners. Practice little acts of kindness, appreciation and enjoy physical intimacy as much as possible to sweeten your relationship.
• Lack of equality: Lack of equality comes closely behind the number one cause of divorce, lack of intimacy, in recent times. When one partner feels that they take on more responsibility in the marriage, it can alter their view of the other person and lead to resentment. Resentment often snowballs to become one of the reasons for divorce, in fact; it is a leading cause of divorce. Every couple must negotiate through their own and unique set of challenges, and find their own way of living together as two equals who enjoy a respectful, harmonious and joyful relationship.
• Not being prepared for marriage: A surprising number of couples of all ages have blamed not being prepared for married life for the demise of their relationship. Divorce rates are highest among couples in their 20s. Lack of preparation is one of the most common reasons for divorce. Almost half the divorces occur in the first 10 years of marriage, especially between the fourth and eighth anniversary.
• Abuse: Physical or emotional abuse is a sad reality for some couples. It doesn’t always stem from the abuser being a “bad” person; deep emotional issues are usually to blame. Regardless of the reason, no one should tolerate abuse and be removing yourself from the relationship safely is important.

Free Consultation with a Legal Separation Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law, or legal separation in Utah, or if you need to start or defend against a divorce or legal separation, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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Can You Date During Legal Separation

A legal separation in Utah is called “separate maintenance – a court will detail the monetary support guidelines and child custody issues and the division of marital property. Couples hoping for a reconciliation may prefer this form of separation to divorce.

Utah requires married couples with children under the age of 18 to attend classes to educate themselves on divorce, and couples with no children must still undergo a 90-day waiting period. Moreover, married couples filing for divorce must also attend a mediation session to resolve remaining disputes before going to trial. Filing for legal separation circumvents the class requirements and the 30-day waiting period in Utah.

Parties are legally separated only when a court enters a decree of separate maintenance. To obtain a decree of separate maintenance in Utah, the parties go through an action like a divorce. Separate maintenance divides property, awards custody of children, and provides for child support and alimony, but does so on a temporary basis; the decree of separate maintenance does not end the marriage. Alimony under separate maintenance is more common than under a divorce decree because the parties are still married, and the law requires spouses to support one another.

Once the separation occurs, the separated couple may file for a divorce, which is independent of the legal separation. Court and attorney fees for legal separation and divorce are equal, but couples seeking a divorce after a separation will end up paying the same amount twice. Couples seeking legal separation must resolve issues similar to that of divorce, including child custody and visitation, dividing up property and child support, and paying debts.

What is the law regarding dating when legally separated?

I am filing for my legal separation. What are the laws about dating again in Utah? We do have 3 children and my husband is threatening me that if I start dating while we are legally separated, he is going to fight for custody.

In all actions for separate support and maintenance, legal separation, or other marital litigation between the parties, allowances of alimony and suit money and allowances of alimony and suit money pendent lite shall be made according to the principles controlling such allowance and actions for divorce. On the issue of whether a spouse should date after separation and before divorce, you should understand that post-separation dating can be used as evidence of adultery occurring during the marriage. If there was no illicit sexual conduct before your date of separation, then post-separation dating is not relevant to a claim for post-separation support or alimony. However, a paramour who stays overnight when your children are present can be grounds for denial of your custody or visitation. You should be forewarned that you will likely be asked under oath at a deposition or at trial about any dating or romantic relationships. To answer these questions falsely would constitute perjury. You may plead the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination under certain limited circumstances. Dating after separation and before divorce may also have a serious negative impact on the settlement negotiations between you and your spouse.

At best, your infidelity can cause your spouse hurt and embarrassment. At worst, it will provoke feelings of anger and revenge, which will greatly complicate your settlement negotiations with your spouse. Also, your spouse might file an action for “alienation of affections” or “criminal conversation” seeking substantial money damages against your paramour based upon his or her sexual intercourse with you or interference with the marital relationship between you and your spouse either before or after the date of separation and before a divorce is final. Conversely, if you spouse is engaging in extra-marital affairs, then you are the wronged spouse and are in the position of filing an alienation of affections or criminal conversation lawsuit against your spouse’s paramour. If that is the case, you are well-advised to obtain proof of his or her affair through a private detective.

I’m not Divorced yet, But I’m Dating; Will that Hurt my Divorce?

When people don’t, they’re said to be “stuck in the past,” or “they can’t get over their ex.”

And we should move on from divorce. While it’s healthy to mourn the loss of your closest relationship, you have to put things behind you at some point to grow and move ahead.

So, how quickly should you move on? More specifically, when should you start dating?

To answer these questions, let’s imagine you’re getting divorced but still married, and you’re already dating. Will that hurt your divorce?
Let’s look at this from a couple different angles.

Angle 1: No Kids

If you have no kids, then dating after separation but before your divorce is signed probably won’t hurt you.

If all you’re doing is dividing up debt and assets (e.g., the home, personal property, etc.), then things are usually pretty straightforward. The reason for the divorce rarely plays a role in determining who gets how much of the 401(k), or who takes what percentage of the Visa card.
I say this, but there are a couple caveats:

Emotions can make everything more difficult.

While the math might be pretty straightforward, emotions can cause people to fight because they’re hurt. Even though they don’t have a leg to stand on, hurt will cause some to want to punish their soon-to-be ex in the form of taking more money. Math is easy; wrath is not.

In some situations, adultery can affect alimony.

There are times under Utah law that adultery can affect alimony. These situations are few and far between in my experience, especially if the adultery happened after separation, but it’s something to keep in mind and to be cautious about.

Angle 2: Yes Kids

Kids complicate everything, especially in divorce.

That emotion that had the potential to complicate asset and debt division, but probably wouldn’t, that emotion will almost certainly complicate your divorce if you are fighting about custody and parent-time.
Your soon-to-be ex will distrust the new person you’re dating. They may hate that person simply because you’re dating them. They may blame the marriage breakup on that person, even if that has nothing to do with reality.

Because of this, the new person you’re dating will likely make coming to a resolution of the divorce more difficult.

Let me give you a couple specific examples of what I mean by more complicated:

1. We’ve had spouses negotiate terms that the kids cannot be introduced to anyone the other person dates for at least six months.

2. We’ve had spouses negotiate terms prohibiting the kids from being alone with the other person’s dating partner because the dating partner was an “unknown” and a “safety risk.”

3. We’ve had spouses negotiate terms that the kids can’t be left alone with the other person’s dating partner, even if the other person marries the dating partner.

4. We’ve spent more time than I care to admit negotiating terms that preclude new dating partners and new spouses from ever disciplining the spouses’ children.

And that’s just a preview of how new dating partners have made things difficult.

What’s the Difference between Legal Separation and Divorce?

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, marriages fail. We’ve all heard of divorce, which is the process couples use to end their marriage legally. Divorce begins when one spouse files a motion (request) with the court. Typically, couples can negotiate the terms for their divorce, including child custody and visitation, child support, property division, and spousal support. If you’ve agreed to most of the conditions, but still have disputes about others, you can ask the court to decide for you. Once the judge finalizes your divorce, both you and your spouse are free to remarry, acquire property, and relocate as single people.

The process for legal separation in many states is nearly identical to divorce, but there’s one critical difference: legal separation doesn’t terminate your marriage. Although you (or the judge) decide the same divorce-related issues, and once the judge grants your request you’re both free to live independent lives, if either spouse wants to remarry in the future, that spouse must ask the court for a formal divorce, first.
Both legal procedures are similar in cost and time commitment; however, if you pursue legal separation before a divorce, you’ll likely be paying twice.

Should I Choose Legal Separation Instead of Divorce?

Much like the decision to get married, the choice of whether to pursue a legal separation or divorce is intensely personal. If you’re not sure if you want a divorce, legal separation might be the most appropriate way to give you time apart while you try to repair the relationship.

Many couples decide to legally separate to continue employer-sponsored health care for a spouse. If you get divorced, it will likely trigger your health insurance to cancel your spouse’s benefits, and in a country where one medical emergency can bankrupt a family, sometimes it’s easier to stay married.

Although there’s no right or wrong reason to pursue legal separation instead of divorce, some of the most common include using separation:

• as a dry-run for divorce

• to preserve valuable tax benefits or other federal benefits

• to promote stability for minor children while given each spouse freedom to move away from the relationship, or

• To overcome religious, social, or moral objections to divorce.

Does Utah Recognize Legal Separation?

Yes, but in Utah, it’s called an action for “separate maintenance.” The process begins when either spouse files a petition for separate maintenance with the local court. You will need to demonstrate that you or your spouse meet the state’s residency requirement, meaning at least one of you lived in Utah for a minimum of 90 days before filing. (U.C.A. 1953 §30-3-4.5.)

Because the process for separate maintenance is nearly identical to divorce, you must also provide the court with a legal reason—or, grounds—for your request. Utah is a mixed divorce state, meaning you can ask for separate maintenance based on your spouse’s marital misconduct (domestic violence, desertion), or you can save time and money by requesting a no-fault separation, and state that your relationship has suffered irreconcilable differences. (U.C.A. 1953 § 30-4-1.)

Utah law requires the judge to wait for a minimum of 30 days (90 days if you filed before May 8, 2018) before acting on your case. The court may waive the waiting period if a judge finds that there are extraordinary circumstances, but this is rare. If you have minor children, you must attend divorce orientation and divorce education classes before the judge can grant your request. Most couples can fulfill this requirement during the waiting period. (U.C.A. 1953 § 30-3-18.)

If you don’t have minor children, you can use the waiting period to negotiate the terms of your separation. You should determine the best parenting plan for your family, how you will handle property and debt division, and resolve any issues about child or spousal support.
If there are outstanding issues in your case, the court requires both parties to attend at least one mediation session before the judge hears your case. Mediation is a way for both spouses to discuss their concerns with a trained, neutral third-party, in a safe and controlled environment. The purpose of mediation is to reduce the time and tension commonly associated with divorce or separate maintenance. (U.C.A. §30-3-39.)

If either spouse wishes to convert the separation into divorce later, that spouse can file a motion with the court. Your spouse can object, and if so, you’ll need to go to court and demonstrate that you meet the guidelines for divorce. If you do, the court will approve your request.

What If We Aren’t Sure That Legal Separation Is Right for Us?

You can participate in a trial separation, which is where you live apart for a specific time and reassess your marriage. Most couples can orally agree to the terms of the trial, and it’s usually the best way to find out if separation or divorce is right for you. The court doesn’t monitor trial separations, so if either spouse doesn’t want to participate, that spouse can file a formal petition with the court for separate maintenance or divorce.

And then there are people who bring the new love interest to mediation. Good heavens, you have never seen people shut down out of anger until you have one spouse bring the new lover to mediation.

My recommendation is this: hold off on dating until you’re done with your divorce. It makes everything so much easier. It removes negative emotions from the equation that do nothing but make the process harder. Just wait.

Legal Separation Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need to get a legal separation or divorce in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We can help with: Divorce. Child Custody. Child Support. Alimony. Divorce Modification. Paternity Actions. And Much More. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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Legal Separation FAQs

Each relationship has its rough focuses, yet in the event that you encounter a larger number of downs than ups, it may be an ideal opportunity to converse with your spouse about what steps you should take straightaway. In case you’re thinking about divorce, you’re not the only one. About half of marriages end with one spouse documenting an appeal (ask for) for disintegration of marriage (divorce.) We’ve previously talked about Divorce vs. Legal Separation in Utah here.

Legal Separation FAQs

Even when parties experience communication issues in a relationship, most couples can still work together to negotiate the terms of their divorce. You should speak to your spouse about how to divide your marital property, develop a parenting plan for your minor children, and review financial support. The court will resolve any lingering disputes, and once it does, the judge will issue a final judgment of divorce, terminate your marriage, and declare each spouse an unmarried individual.

Legal separation is a divorce alternative that resolves the same legal issues, but in the end, you’re still legally married to your spouse. In most states, divorce is permanent, but legal separation can be temporary, which gives married couples the added benefit of the possibility for reconciliation later.

If Divorce and Legal Separation are Similar, Why Choose a Legal Separation?

There’s no brilliant line manage for when it’s best to seek after divorce or division. Connections are close to home, and just the couple knows whether there’s a shot for compromise later on. On the off chance that there is still seek after your marriage, yet you require time separated, lawful detachment makes it less demanding to continue wedded life later.

For religious or spiritual couples, divorce might not be an option if you want to continue in your faith. If that’s the case, legal separation will allow both spouses the freedom to live a life apart from each other, but both can continue following the practices of the church.

Other typical examples of why couples choose legal separation instead of divorce include:

  • to preserve health insurance for a spouse (it’s critical to confirm this with the health insurance company first)
  • to protect valuable federal or military benefits, and
  • to ease the family into a dry-run for divorce.

It’s a myth that couples must file for legal separation before divorce. In fact, the legal processes are nearly identical, so if you pursue legal separation but want a divorce later, you may wind up paying legal fees and expenses twice.

Can We Live Apart and Separate Without Filing Anything?

Yes. The law doesn’t expect spouses to live in a similar house or act like a wedded couple. On the off chance that you and your spouse might want some time far from each other, you can take an interest in a preliminary partition, which is the place you live in particular homes, however you don’t approach the court for mediation.

Most couples can agree on the terms of a trial separation, like how long it should last, who should reside in the marital home, and a schedule for visiting with the children. Trial separations often give married couples the time they need to pursue therapy—or if reconciliation isn’t possible—to prepare the family for divorce (or formal separation.) It’s important to note that because the court isn’t involved in trial separations, you have more flexibility with the terms of your agreement. That said, if either spouse decides to stop the trial separation, the only recourse for the other is to file a formal motion for legal separation or divorce.

Does Utah Allow Legal Separation?

Yes, but in Utah, it’s called a “judicial separation. Residents in Utah may file for a judicial separation by demonstrating that they meet the state’s divorce requirements. You’ll need to meet Utah’s residency requirement, meaning at least one spouse has lived in the state for a minimum of 60 days before filing. If you haven’t lived in the state for 60 days, but your wedding took place in Utah, you can file for a legal separation if you can prove that you have lived in the state since the day your wedding took place.

Every spouse must be prepared to provide the court with a legal reason—or, grounds—for the request for a legal separation. Utah is a no-fault divorce state, which means that neither spouse needs to point fingers or place blame for the failure of the relationship. In fact, the court is satisfied when the filing spouse declares that the marriage has suffered irreconcilable differences, or if either spouse is incurably insane and living in a mental institution for at least 2 years.

Utah requires a mandatory waiting period of 20 days from the time you file to when the judge can finalize your case. Couples should use this time to negotiate the terms of the separation, including whether it will have an expiration date. Like divorce, the judge will resolve any lingering disputes between the spouses before granting the separation. If you need immediate court orders, a judge can issue temporary orders as soon as you file.

Do We Have to Put Our Separation Agreement in Writing?

Yes, every legitimate partition ought to have a detachment agreement marked by the two spouses and the judge. Your request should resolve an indistinguishable issues from however it were a divorce. For instance, your contract should dictate who will be the custodial parent and primary caretaker for any minor children and include a detailed visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. Your order should also address who should pay child support, each spouse’s rights and responsibilities regarding marital property and debt, and which spouse may continue living in (and paying for) the marital home.

The separation agreement does not terminate your marriage like a judgment of divorce, but it offers each spouse protection with a court order on the most crucial issues.

Free Consultation with a Legal Separation Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce or a legal separation or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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