Divorce vs. Legal Separation in Tennessee
Many spouses who do not believe that their marital relationship can be restored choose to divorce or legally separate. The process involved in either legal action parallels each other. Our skilled Murfreesboro divorce lawyers explain the differences between these two legal actions.
Differences in divorce and legal separation
There are few differences between divorce and legal separation. The first difference is that in a divorce, the spouses are free to marry other people. In a legal separation, the spouses are still legally married. They may continue to have obligations and rights to each other’s property.
Reasons for separation
Spouses may have their own reasons for wanting to legally separate instead of divorce. For example, they may be part of a religion that does not support divorce. They may want to maintain their married status for other reasons, such as:
There is preferential tax treatment for married spouses
A spouse may want to stay married to retain immigration benefits
Healthcare coverage may terminate upon divorce
A spouse may want to legally stay married for longer to qualify for other benefits, such as those listed in a prenuptial agreement or Social Security benefits
You want to maintain a beneficiary interest, such as being a beneficiary for a trust
You want to maintain a fiduciary interest. An estate plan may automatically terminate you as a trustee or executor if you are divorced.
Process of divorce and separation
The process to legally separate or divorce is started in initially the same manner. One of the spouses files a petition which states the ground for separation or divorce, such as adultery, abandonment or irreconcilable differences. The party states the relief he or she wants in the petition, such as child custody, property to be divided, spousal support or child support. The documents are served on the other spouse who has a limited amount of time to file an answer.
In a divorce action, if the parties cannot agree on how to divide their property, the court equitably divides the marital property between you and your spouse. However, in legal separation, the court can defer the property issue for later, such as when a divorce action is later filed. He or she also has the discretion to set a separate hearing for the property division for this matter to be determined independent of the other issues before the court like custody or parenting time disputes.
If two years pass, either spouse can convert the legal separation into a divorce without obtaining the other spouse’s consent. This means that the party can use the previous stipulations for the legal separation and ask for a decree of divorce with the same stipulations.
Contact a knowledgeable Murfreesboro divorce lawyer for a confidential consultation
If you are considering divorce or legal separation, an experienced Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Dotson & Taylor, Attorneys at Law can discuss your options. We assess your case and determine which option is best for you and your situation. We stand by you every step of the way and ensure your legal interests are safeguarded. Contact us online or call 615-890-1982 to schedule an initial consultation today.