Legal Separation vs. Divorce

What is a legal separation?

If you are considering filing for divorce but aren’t yet ready for something “final,” you might want to think about filing for legal separation. Under Indiana law, a legal separation operates almost exactly as a dissolution of marriage (a divorce) but in a temporary fashion. If the judge finds that conditions in or circumstances of the marriage make it currently intolerable for both parties to live together and that the marriage should be maintained, then the judge will decree a legal separation between you and your spouse. The decree may last a maximum of one year. The decree can contain any orders that could be included in a decree of dissolution (a divorce) such as child custody, child support, maintenance, protective orders, and so on, but such orders may only last up to one year.

How is a legal separation different from a divorce?

A divorce, on the other hand, is final and permanent. To enter a divorce decree, the judge must find that your marriage is irretrievably broken. Once the judge enters such a decree, there is no going back short of getting remarried.

Legal separation, therefore, can be used as a sort of testing or cooling-off period. Perhaps you and your spouse simply need some (legally enforceable) time apart to figure things out. Please contact me if you are considering filing for a legal separation or a divorce. I can help you decide which course of action is best and guide you through the entire process.


–Joel Dendiu

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