Divorce and Separation

Whether a petition to divorce or separate is filed, you must ask the court to resolve all issues between you. The biggest difference between a divorce and separation judgment is one line item which addresses your marital status. In a separation, your status changes from married to legally separated. In a divorce your status changes from married to divorced. One continues your marriage in limited form, one ends the marriage.

Custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, asset and debt division, name change preferences and all other issues applicable to your case will be resolved in either a divorce or separation. If you are married, the court can only decide these other issues if a divorce or separation petition has been filed. The court can also address a large number of issues on a temporary basis (see Temporary Relief) to provide you more immediate relief.

If you request a legal separation, your spouse may instead request a divorce. The only way the marriage continues in either form is if both parties agree to continue it. One party alone may request and receive a separation or divorce judgment over objection of the other party.

If a legal separation is granted, and so long as the parties have followed instead of disregarded the judgment (for example, by commingling separate assets or having another child together or living together) a separation judgment may be converted to a divorce judgment within two years. If the separation judgment has been abandoned, some or all issues in your case may have to be relitigated.

For more information, click on the following additional topics:

For more information, contact us at 503-585-0157 or sbaldwin@oneillbaldwin.com. We offer *FREE one-half hour consultations, and would be happy to discuss your case and answer your initial questions.

NOTICE: The above summary is meant for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal advice. It is meant merely as a broad overview of the rules applicable to the majority of cases, and does not diminish the need to consult with a professional regarding your specific circumstances.

Legal Separation

A separation judgment addresses and resolves each and every issue that a divorce judgment addresses and resolves, except does not end the marriage. Legal separation can be useful to resolve uncertainty and to separate finances so that the parties can focus their time and energy on determining whether the marriage can or should be saved. If both parties genuinely wish to consider saving the marriage, a legal separation can be very helpful in amicably resolving financial and other disputes in a reasonable, low stress and cost-effective manner.

However, if only one party truly wants the marriage to continue, and wants the chance to continue the marriage at the cost of agreeing to disproportionally favorable terms to the other party, he or she may find themselves divorced quickly after entry of the separation judgment without ability to renegotiate the unfavorable terms. Parties should seek the advice of an attorney before entering any judgment which may permanently affect their rights, particularly if they cannot separate their desire to continue the marriage from assessing what is or is not a fair and equitable division of assets, debts and/or parenting rights.

Once a separation judgment is entered, and assuming separation of finances and living arrangements in compliance with the separation judgment, the judgement can be readily converted into a divorce judgment upon request by either party within two years. If the parties have not complied with the separation judgment, certain issues may need to be relitigated as a result of accumulation of additional assets or debts, additional children being born, or other changed circumstances.

With agreement between the parties, a separation judgment may be set aside, which then continues the married status of the parties and ends all effect of the separation judgment.

For more information, click on the following additional topics:

Or, contact us at 503-585-0157 or sbaldwin@oneillbaldwin.com. We offer *FREE one-half hour consultations, and would be happy to discuss your case and answer your initial questions.

NOTICE: The above summary is meant for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal advice. It is meant merely as a broad overview of the rules applicable to the majority of cases, and does not diminish the need to consult with a professional regarding your specific circumstances.