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Separation vs. Divorce in Ohio

Tired of being married? In Ohio, you have two options: divorce and separation. As you probably know, a divorce ends your marriage. In a divorce, you divide assets and debts and decide on matters such as child custody and alimony. 

In a legal separation, you do pretty much the same, except you stay married to each other. But in a separation, you stay separated, as the name implies. You live apart and lead separate lives. However, you and your spouse must follow the orders of the court. 

Many people opt for a legal separation because it is much easier to undo than a divorce. A divorce is permanent, whereas a separation can be easily converted back to a traditional marriage at any time. After a divorce, though, you are no longer married. After that, you can pretty much do what you want. You can get remarried if you want.

So why do people separate instead of divorce? Sometimes their religion or community forbids or frowns upon divorce. So if a couple is not getting along, they can get a legal separation. Read on to learn more about separation.

How to Get a Legal Separation in Ohio

Ohio is unique in that it has a law that specifically provides for a court action to obtain a legal separation. This is similar to filing for divorce. You will need to have appropriate grounds, or  reasons, for the separation, although you do not have to be living separately to initiate the lawsuit.

Some possible grounds for filing an action for legal separation include:

  • One spouse deserted the other and was absent from the marriage for a period of one year
  • Adultery
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Incarceration
  • You and your spouse have lived separate and apart for one year straight without sexual relations
  • Incompatibility

If you and your spouse agree to separate, you should create a written contract called a 

separation agreement. You can enter into them without getting the courts involved. Once you both sign it, you must abide by its terms. If one spouse violates the agreement, the other spouse can go to court to enforce it.

If you later decide to end the marriage. Ohio law allows you to accomplish this quickly if you have a separation agreement involved. You will both need to sign a “petition for dissolution” and the separation agreement will get incorporated into that petition. This will finalize your divorce quickly.

Pros and Cons of Legal Separation

Legal separation may be ideal for some couples but not others. Here are some pros to consider:

  • It gives you time apart. Sometimes couples don’t want to divorce right away, but they want some time apart. A legal separation can help with this. You can live separately and try to work on your issues. You can then decide if you want to stay married or divorce. 
  • You can keep your medical insurance. Once you divorce, you’re on your own when it comes to medical coverage. If you can’t get your own insurance or it would be too costly, then you may want to separate instead of divorce.
  • Financial considerations. Being married comes with benefits such as tax savings. Plus, you can get your spouse’s Social Security or retirement benefits if you stay married, so many people opt to separate instead of divorce. 

Here are some downsides of legal separation to consider:

  • You can’t remarry. In a legal separation, you and your spouse are still technically legally married, even if you aren’t living together as a married couple. If you meet someone and want to remarry, you will need to file for divorce.
  • The process is pretty much the same as a divorce. A legal separation is still a complex process. You’ll need to split assets and decide on child custody and support, if kids are involved. You can live apart and not go through this process, if you desire.
  • There are money issues to consider. If your spouse spends money and goes into debt while you two are living separately, you could be on the hook for this debt.

Contact Us Today

You can opt for a separation or a divorce in Ohio, but keep in mind that only a divorce will end your marriage. 
If you are sick of being married, the Delaware, Ohio divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law Office can help you understand your legal options. Schedule a consultation with our office today by filling out the online form or calling (614) 363-0752.

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