If a married couple wants to live apart but not get divorced, it is an option in Indiana to file for a legal separation. A petitioner for legal separation states, essentially, that current circumstances make it intolerable for the parties to live together, but that the marriage should be preserved. It is important to note that a legal separation lasts for a maximum of one year. If at the end of a one-year period, the parties have not converted their legal separation to a dissolution of marriage action, the legal separation will be dismissed, and the parties will be left without an order in place.
Although a legal separation does not end the marriage, it does allow the parties to have an enforceable order in court that sets out, for example:
(1) Who will pay marital debts;
(2) Temporary orders regarding child issues such as custody, parenting time and payment of child support;
(3) Whether either spouse will pay spousal maintenance; and
(4) Who will live in the marital home and/or have possession of vehicles or other property.
These same types of temporary orders may be issued in the context of a dissolution of marriage action, as provisional orders. By contrast, a dissolution of marriage action does not expire at the end of one-year, but the parties to a dissolution of marriage action are not bound by any particular time table for moving forward. In a dissolution of marriage action, temporary or provisional orders generally end upon the issuance of the final decree.
Although there are drawbacks, a legal separation may be appropriate if you believe that your marriage should not be ended, but you need the protection of a court order regarding the payment of certain debts, possession of certain assets, or child-related issues, while you pursue a period of separation, or of reconciliation.
If you would like more information about legal separation and how it compares to a dissolution of marriage, please call Stafford Law Office, LLC to schedule a consultation.
Disclaimer: This summary is not intended to be comprehensive, and should not be construed as legal advice for your particular situation. Nothing in this website is intended to serve as or substitute for legal representation.