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Differences between legal separation and divorce

Divorce is not the only option for people in North Carolina who are experiencing marital problems. Sometimes, a couple doesn't wish to divorce for religious reasons or may decide to separate while attempting to work out their differences. In such cases, a legal separation may be an appropriate course of action. Unlike informal or temporary separations, where the parties simply choose to live apart, a legal separation is granted by a court and formally determines a couple's legal and financial responsibilities toward each other.

Unlike divorce, legal separation is relatively rare. When a couple legally separates, they go through a process similar to that of divorcing couples. They negotiate issues such as who continues living in the marital home, spousal support and child custody. Their agreements will be presented to a judge for approval. If the couple cannot resolve these issues on their own, the judge may have to make these decisions for the couple. While the couple may lead separate lives, they remain married to each other and neither party is free to remarry someone else.

For couples who have separated but do not wish to divorce, legal separation may offer a number of protections. In families where there are significant assets, or where financial matters have been a concern, a legal separation can reduce tensions by defining exactly what is expected of each spouse. If there is a possible reconciliation to consider, diffusing financial conflict is often important.

Individuals who are considering legal separation or divorce may benefit from speaking to an experienced family law attorney. The attorney may be able to review assets, recommend a division of debt and assist in drawing up separate maintenance agreements.

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The Graham.Nuckolls.Conner. Law Firm, PLLC
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Greenville, NC 27858

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