Divorce vs. Legal Separation in Utah
Divorce and Legal Separation typically go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing. Depending on your personal situation and relationship with your spouse, one option may be better for you than the other. Understanding the key differences can help you decide what is best for you.
Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage via the court system. After divorce, both parties can legally remarry. However, there are some rights and benefits of marriage that will be lost in divorce. These may include tax benefits, health insurance (including dental and vision), some forms of life insurance, government benefits, etc. To know what the specific legal consequences of divorce would be for you, consulting a Utah lawyer is your best option.
Divorce entails a full and complete division and separation of all assets and resources, which can be expensive and may require extensive amounts of time. If you are interested in marrying someone else, or that is something you think you may want to do in the future, you surely need to get divorced. You don’t want to commit bigamy and be in violation of Utah’s criminal laws. Thus, divorce may be the right choice for you if the relationship between you and your spouse is unsalvageable or if there are other severe circumstances that cause you to feel that divorce is the proper and prudent action to take.
Legal separation is a court order that defines the rights and duties of a married couple who is living apart, but still wishes to remain legally married. It may continue on to a divorce decree later, but this is not always the case. Often, legal separation allows each party to retain the legal benefits of marriage, because it does not legally dissolve the marital union.
However, there are still issues in regards to separate maintenance, and child custody and child/spousal support that must be determined either between the parties via negotiation or mediation or ultimately through court. Additionally, all debts acquired by each spouse after separation will still be treated as joint debt.
Legal Separation may be the right choice for you if the circumstances of your relationship make you want to avoid divorce. Nevertheless, it is important to consult a lawyer about your options and what is best for your situation.
So, Legal Separation vs. Divorce – How Do I Know What the Best Choice Is?
Every situation and relationship is different. There are countless emotional and material investments and commitments entrenched in marriage, and these things take time and help to adequately sort through during the processes of separation and divorce.
If you are considering legal separation instead of divorce, communication is the key factor. We recommend setting aside some time to sit across a table and discussing the situation. Sometimes having a frank chat about what is going on and how to resolve the conflict and issues can be a huge step forward to getting a separation agreement listed out. We understand that emotions play a role and it might be too hard to do. If that’s the case, you should look at mediation. If you can’t really communicate well with your spouse anymore, or if they shut down at the thought of getting things resolved; then, the next step should be to call us to talk about moving forward.
One of the main reasons we see people seeking a legal separation instead of a divorce is for medical insurance. If you get divorced, your ex-spouse (ex-husband or ex-wife) cannot be on your health insurance policy. If neither of you intend on remarrying soon, this is an option to keep the other party on your insurance policy.
Another reason we see for legal separation is because the parties are older and they have no intention of getting divorced — meaning, they know they are not getting remarried, so they don’t want to get divorced. One last reason that is common is for religious reasons. Some people believe that divorce is a sin under their religious beliefs and so, a legal separation is preferred for that couple so they do not impair their relationship with God.
All of these and other reasons are valid and important. You should weigh the pros and cons of divorce versus legal separation in your specific situation and what you arrive at will be the right choice for you.
Turning a Legal Separation into a Divorce in Utah
Once a legal separation order has been signed by a court in Utah; you can later convert that order of separation into a divorce decree in the future. You should contact a family law attorney or our office and we can file a motion to convert the order to a divorce decree. Your spouse may object and has the right to do so. If an objection is filed with the court; then, a hearing will likely be held by the court. We have to show that the court has jurisdiction and grounds to grant a divorce. Most do not contest the conversion from a legal separation to a divorce when the time comes. Even if your spouse does contest the conversion from a separation order to a divorce decree; as long as you meet the jurisdiction and grounds for divorce and the paperwork is in order, the court will grant the divorce. There is no law in Utah that forces you to stay married to your spouse. A divorce based on irreconcilable differences is always permitted.
Divorce or Legal Separation is never an enjoyable process. They are almost always painful and difficult. However, it may be necessary and even the best decision you can make, depending on your situation. If you are suffering, it is time to end the suffering. If you know inside that separation or divorce is right for you; you should follow your inner voice and let it guide you. There is no reason to suffer any more than you already have. In spite of everything, it is possible to come out of this painful and unpleasant situation successfully.
Learning more about divorce and legal separation is important in figuring out what the best path for you to take is. There are a lot of factors and steps to take in both processes and it is important to be familiar with what both divorce and separation entail. We are more than happy to help you work through these difficult situations, and can help you in figuring out what options are the best for your and your specific circumstances.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506