Divorce and dissolution of marriage are not the only means for a couple to part ways in Ohio. Couples may seek legal separation over divorce for numerous reasons. They may practice a religion or are part of a culture that disapproves of divorce They may need to remain legally married to retain their immigration status or wish to continue to receive the various tax benefits of marriage.
At Slater & Zurz, we offer our clients in Akron, Ohio, and surrounding areas skilled legal representation in all aspects of legal separation and other family law matters. To become legally separated, a court-approved agreement on how to divide marital assets and debts and resolve issues related to child custody, child visitation, child support, and spousal support is required. While legal separation is a viable alternative to divorce and dissolution, it is often a process that involves highly contested resolutions that may require a final determination by the courts. That is why it is crucial to obtain the assistance of a skilled Ohio legal separation attorney to ensure your concerns are properly addressed and your rights are diligently protected throughout the entire process.
Our Akron, Ohio legal team will handle your legal separation with skill, diligence, and care. We will advocate aggressively on your behalf to ensure the resolution is fair and equitable and aligns with your immediate and long-term goals. If you have children, our attorneys will keep their well-being at the forefront and act only when it is in your and your children’s best interests. To learn more about the legal separation process in Ohio, we welcome you to contact our office.
Call 330.762.0700 or contact us online to arrange a FREE, confidential consultation with a qualified legal separation lawyer.
What it Means to be Legally Separated
A legal separation is a court-ordered arrangement in which a couple keeps their marriage intact while they maintain different households and lead separate lives. It is a popular alternative to a divorce or dissolution of marriage where, in both, the marriage is legally terminated. It can be the best option when spouses want to establish an agreement dealing with matters relating to marriage while they try to work through their differences or are unsure whether or not they wish to remain married. This agreement addresses matters such as the division of assets and debts, spousal support, child support, child custody, and parenting time.
When a Legal Separation May Be the Best Option
When a couple is choosing whether to officially end their marriage through divorce or dissolution or choosing an alternative, such as legal separation, they must consider several factors. Though the reasons for seeking a legal separation vary greatly, some more commonly cited reasons include:
- One or both spouses practice a religion that disapproves of divorce.
- The parties would like to retain the tax incentives associated with marriage.
- Family customs, traditions, or beliefs prevent the couple from divorcing.
- They may need to maintain the family medical insurance coverage (which some health insurance companies will allow.)
- One or both parties may wish to stay married to obtain or increase retirement benefits.
- The spouses may need to remain married to maintain their immigration status.
- The Ohio residency requirement of 6 months has not been met.
The Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce
Unlike divorce or dissolution of marriage, a legal separation does not officially end your marriage. During a legal separation, spouses choose to live apart, but their marriage remains intact. Couples choose legal separation over divorce and dissolution because it gives them the opportunity to address issues within the marriage and decide what is best going forward; reconcile, remain legally separated, or proceed with a divorce. A key difference between legal separation and divorce is that a legal separation is reversible. If you get a divorce or dissolution, it permanently and legally ends the marriage.
To speak to an Ohio legal separation attorney, call 330.762.0700 or fill out this form.
The Legal Separation Process in Ohio
Unlike many states, Ohio provides a married couple with the ability to obtain a legal separation. In many ways, the process of becoming legally separated is similar to getting a divorce or dissolution. The process begins with determining appropriate grounds for the separation. Reasons for filing for legal separation in Ohio are detailed in Ohio Revised Code 3105.17 and include:
- Willful absence from the marriage for at least one year
- Either spouse had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage
- Extreme cruelty
- Habitual drug or alcohol use
- Imprisonment of the adverse party
- Gross neglect of duty
- Fraudulent contract
To initiate the legal separation, an Ohio legal separation lawyer will file an action with the local county’s Court of Common Pleas that cites one or more of the reasons above as why the legal separation should occur. When the other spouse is served with the complaint, it is within their rights to respond with a counterclaim for divorce. If this happens, the courts will treat the case like a divorce, and will legally terminate the marriage. In other words, legal separation can only take place when both spouses agree.
The process of working out the details of their separation then begins. Both parties will need to agree on the separation and all of its terms, including a division of assets and debts, spousal support, child custody, parenting time, and child support. If both parties can agree to all of the above matters, the legal separation can be quick and straightforward.
Just as in a divorce, if the spouses cannot agree to one or more terms, the process can be lengthy and expensive. In an attempt to resolve the conflict, a court may order mediation, or the couple may voluntarily choose to seek the help of a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who cannot make decisions on behalf of the couple but facilitates communication and compromise, helping the couples reach an acceptable agreement. If all issues are resolved through mediation, the couple can proceed to a court hearing.
If both spouses have filed a separation agreement, the judge will look it over and likely ask both parties a few questions to ensure they willfully agree to the separation and its terms. If both parties agree and the judge finds the agreement to be fair, he or she will then enter a judgment granting a legal separation.
If the couple has one or more unresolved or contested matters, the judge will ask both parties to state their case. They may ask several questions to better understand the facts surrounding the issue before making a ruling. After the judge has ruled on the previously unresolved matters, the parties will fill out and sign a judgment form. Once the form is also signed and filed by the judge, the judgment for legal separation is final.
Get your questions answered by an experienced legal separation lawyer. Call 330.762.0700 today to arrange your FREE consultation.
Akron, Ohio Legal Separation Lawyers
Whether your separation will be highly contentious or completely amicable, it is always best to have a skilled Akron attorney to diligently protect your best interests. Quite often issues arise during the process that neither you nor your spouse may have anticipated. Our legal separation attorneys in Ohio will carefully guide you through any unforeseen conflicts and provide you with the insight needed to help you make the most beneficial decisions. We will continue to thoughtfully evaluate your situation throughout the process and work tirelessly to obtain an outcome that aligns with your current and future goals.
To arrange a FREE consultation where you can discuss your situation and goals for the legal separation, contact our office today at 330.762.0700 or fill out our online form.