What is a Legal Separation in Maine?
In many states, including Maine, couples contemplating divorce can choose to instead legally separate. A legal separation is very similar to divorce except parties do complete dissolve their marriage. In a separation, also known as a Judgment for Separate Maintenance, parties agree to live separately, divide their property and an act as though they are divorced without officially ending their marriage.
According to Maine's revised statutes title 19-A, section 851, 1A a court can grant a judicial separation:
A. Upon the petition of a married person who lives apart or who desires to live apart from that person's spouse for a period in excess of 60 continuous days; or
B. Upon joint petition of a married couple who live apart or who desire to live apart for a period in excess of 60 continuous days
The legal separation process works very much like a divorce. Parties must undergo mediation and reach an agreement on how to divide assets and debts. Additionally, parental rights and responsibilities including child custody and support issues must be resolved and the results are legal enforceable.
If you are thinking about divorce or separation and would like to know more about your options, contact our office and speak to a Maine divorce attorney today.
Deciding if Legal Separation is Right for You
There are several reasons why a couple would choose to separate instead of divorce. One common reason for choosing separation is due to religious beliefs. Divorce may be against a couple's religion and filing for a judicial separation is a way for them to dissolve their union without breaking the bonds of marriage. It is also used by couples who hope to one day reconcile but want to protect their assets and rights while contemplating whether to go forward with the divorce. A separation can at any time be transitioned into a divorce or be terminated if the parties reconcile.
Couple may also choose to separate to avoid losing privileges like insurance. When a couple divorces, spouses are often no longer allowed to be on their ex's health insurance policies. Legal separations are not for everyone and do have drawbacks. For example, couples who are separated cannot file joint tax returns and though their living situations and maintenance obligations are separate, parties are not allowed to remarry unless an actual divorce has taken place.
Legal Separation Representation in Maine
If you live in Maine and are considering a legal separation, a divorce attorney can help you. Even though a separation is not as permanent as a divorce, an agreement must be made between spouses dealing with the division of their property including assets and debts well as decisions made regarding parental rights and responsibilities. Separating parties can also seek spousal support and petition the court to enforce orders if one party does not comply. Before negotiating a separation, a divorce attorney should be consulted.
At WTB Law, our attorneys can help you with every step of the separation process and make sure that your best interests are being looked out for. Call us now to find out more.