Divorce puts a final ending on a marriage – it is the legal dissolution of the marriage. Sometimes a married couple need time apart, but they are not sure that the marriage is over. A legal separation is an official legal proceeding that allows a married couple to live apart with the protection of court orders similar to divorce, but without that note of finality. The family law attorneys at The Upton Law Firm can counsel you on whether legal separation is in your best interests in your particular situation, and can guide you through the steps necessary to obtain a legal separation under Connecticut law, including representation in court if necessary.
Connecticut Legal Separation Facts
Not all states have a formal legal process that recognizes legal separation, but Connecticut does. Under Connecticut law, a decree of legal separation has the same effect as a divorce decree, with the one difference being that parties who are only separated are not free to marry another.
The grounds and procedure for obtaining a legal separation are basically the same as divorce in Connecticut: the same residency requirement applies; the grounds for separation can be either no-fault or fault-based; there is a general waiting period of 90 days before the decree is issued, unless the waiting is waived; if there are children, the parents must complete a parenting education program; etc.
Importantly, the court in granting a legal separation can issue the same orders as a judge granting a divorce. This includes court orders regarding the distribution of the couple’s property, child custody and support, and alimony. If the parties cannot agree on these matters between themselves, the contested issues have to be litigated, with the judge making the final determination.
Why Choose Legal Separation?
Some couples find they can no longer live together, but they feel they cannot get divorced for religious reasons. Legal separation gives them all the legal protections and enforceable orders of a divorce, without formally dissolving the marriage. Other couples may choose to stay married for economic reasons; financial matters such as taxes, social security and insurance can all be impacted by a divorce in ways a couple might feel would be detrimental.
Perhaps most importantly, legal separation offers a simple process for getting back together in the event of a reconciliation. Many couples find they need a break but are not sure that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Parties who are legally separated can simply resume marital relations and file a written declaration with the court, and the judge will vacate the separation decree and dismiss the complaint, returning the couple to full marital status. Likewise, if divorce turns out to be the preferred decision, it only takes one party to petition the court for a decree dissolving the marriage, and this decree is entered by the judge, without even involving the other spouse. A legal separation can last indefinitely, or be easily dismissed or converted to a divorce.
Help with Legal Separation in Connecticut
For advice and representation regarding legal separation, divorce, or other Connecticut family law matters, contact The Upton Law Firm at our offices in West Hartford at 860-893-0558.