Legal Separation In The State of Indiana
To divorce, or not to divorce? That is, in some situations, the question. The law provides a route – Legal Separation – that recognizes the difficulties of marriage, but does not legally terminate it. This route too can result in important agreements and court orders to guide the parties throughout the separation period.
There are times when relationships get to a point where one or both parties feel they cannot continue, but, for a range of possible reasons, they do not want to file for divorce. In this situation, a Legal Separation is a useful option. The attorneys at Roman-Lagunas & Wheeler will help make sure you are fully confident and understand the Legal Separation route in order for you to make controlled decisions regarding your marriage. Whether you are contemplating Legal Separation yourself, or the suggestion is coming from your spouse, you need to be informed of the differences and implications.
In the State of Indiana, a Legal Separation may be granted if the current circumstances of the marriage make it intolerable for the parties to live together, but, the marriage should be maintained. The two key factors here are the parties are physically separated, and the marriage should be maintained.
It is important to note that if a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has already been filed, then a Legal Separation cannot be obtained.
But, you can legally separate first and then divorce later on.
This does not mean that a legal separation blocks the route to divorce. In fact, either party to a Legal Separation action can file for Divorce while the Decree for Legal Separation remains in place. Anytime after the Petition for Legal Separation is filed, you or your spouse can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, turning the legal separation case into a pending divorce case. In Indiana, the residency and jurisdictional requirements are exactly the same for a Legal Separation case as they are for a Divorce.
Legal Separation is not a permanent solution; in Indiana, it may only be granted for a maximum of one year. The timescale may be short, but this route is not trivial. Agreements and court orders may be issued during a legal separation. Often they include fundamentally important areas, such as Child Custody, Parenting Time (Visitation), Child Support, Spousal Support, and Property Division.
At the end of the one year Legal Separation period, the parties can choose to remain married or file for divorce (if they have not already done so). Any agreements or court orders that were issued during the Legal Separation will expire at the end of the one-year separation period.
Legal Separation can provide a useful period of reevaluation for both parties of the marriage. It may help to confirm whether staying married is the better route, or if divorce is in fact the only viable option. Every situation is different. Every final decision is personal and unique. And in every case, Roman-Lagunas & Wheeler will apply common sense and legal expertise to help you make an informed and controlled choice.