When a divorce is unavoidable, a married couple may decide to go into "legal separations". In some U.S.A. states this is often referred to as "separate maintenance". By many people this way of parting is considered to be much more convenient and nerve-saving, so more and more couples, who face the need to break their relations, go into the legal separation process.
When the term "legal separation" is used, usually it is referred to a situation of the court entering a special order, stating the situation set after the two parties separate. Often, the following issues are covered: child support and custody, and spousal support, which is also called "alimony". As a part of legal separation, any and every issues may be resolved by a court. Otherwise, a court would resolve them as a part of a divorce process. The main difference is that even after a court enters the final order, people still remain married. In many states, a special "cooling off" period is required, before a judge issues a divorce order, but there is no waiting period before a court may decide on separate maintenance or "legal separation".
A married couple may separate even without a court, if they sign a written agreement or have mutual understanding. When drafting an agreement on legal separation, many people will seek an experienced lawyer to assist them. This may appear to be very smart, for instance, when spouses want to make sure that insurance coverage remains for the both after they go through legal separation.
So, why do people go through legal separation, avoiding divorces? There are several reasons:
- Insurance issues: people don't want to lose insurance, which sometimes may be cancelled if people are divorced.
- Religious issues: a couple's religion may not allow them to divorce.
- Waiting period concerns: people may want to separate before a court issues the final order after the "cooling off" period.
- Temporary separation - a couple may feel that the marriage would be reconciled further on, but understand they need to separate for some time, and that is why want a juridical arrangement of such issues as spousal support (alimony), child custody and support and property.
You should however remember that legally separated couples are still married. If you fell you are going to marry someone in future, there is no sense in legal separation - you should go directly to court and handle in for a divorce.
If you two separate with a hope that your relations will reconcile in future, but this appears to be wrong, you would consider converting your legal separation into a divorce process. The exact procedure of conversion depends on the state you live in. Sometimes there is even no need to start a new process. Sometimes it is obligatory to start a new divorce action in order to obtain a divorce. Most of the states are somewhere in the middle.
Legal separation procedure caters to those who may feel a possible reconciliation of their marriage in the future and don't want to make their divorce kids threatening. However, it is still wise to hire an expert when setting up legal separation.