Legal Guide

Divorce and Separation: Basic Information Everyone Should Know

A court judgment that ends a marriage is known as “divorce,” while a separation is a written agreement signed by the couple. Before the court can grant couples a divorce, they must provide valid grounds or reasons. Besides these, the court will also consider several other issues the couples must decide before the divorce becomes final.

If you or a loved one is going through a divorce or separation, there are certain things you must know. This article contains some basic information about divorce and separation everyone should know, whether you are experiencing it or not.

Do You Have to Divorce?

Couples who no longer wish to be married do not necessarily have to divorce; they can choose to live apart. For certain reasons, including religious, personal, financial, or even for the children's sake, couples can remain legally married but separated. You can then seek a Judgment of Support or Judgment of Separate Support that will decide custody.

How is a Separate Support Different From a Divorce?

A separate support differs from a divorce in that while the latter ends a marriage, the former does not. Other differences exist in custody, visitation, parenting time, support for one of the spouses, or child support.

What Issues Must be Decided for a Divorce or Separation Process to be Finalized?

The issues include the custody and support of children, visitation or parenting time with the children, and division of assets. They also include alimony or support for the spouse, division of real property, and who gets to live in the marital home.

Also, couples must decide the division of real property and debts, taking back their pre-marriage name and, perhaps, a protection order. The divorcing or separating couple must resolve these issues by agreement; if they cannot, the judge will decide.

At What Point in the Process Should You Consult a Lawyer?

You should consult a lawyer when you decide to divorce or separate from your partner. They can give you more information on the differences between support, separate support, and divorce. Also, you need a lawyer if you have decided to have a written Separation Agreement with your spouse.

What Does it Mean to Make a Written Separation Agreement?

If you are divorcing your spouse, you will both make a Separation Agreement stating the handling process of matters relating to your marriage. The agreement will cover your support or alimony, support of children, visits or parenting time, and division of assets.

It will also include what will happen to your real estate, who will live in the marital home and the division of debts. A Separation Agreement is part of the divorce judgment and only stands if both spouses sign it.

Do you have to sign the Separation Agreement?

“You do not have to sign any kind of agreement if you do not want to or do not agree with its terms. Your signature must be voluntary. Therefore, if you are asked to sign any kind of document, refuse to bow to pressure and get a lawyer,” says family law attorney, Galit Moskowitz, of Moskowitz Law Group, LLC. Furthermore, the judge may disallow an agreement at the divorce hearing if it is believed you were intimidated or could not consult a lawyer.

Conclusion: How Can You Prepare for a Divorce?

After careful consideration and investigation, the decision to divorce one’s spouse should be made. Once you have decided, get informed by talking to friends, reading books, and asking questions. Also, you can go to your county’s Probate and Family Court to observe divorce hearings and trials of other couples.

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