Many married couples decide to live apart temporarily or permanently when they encounter problems in their marriage. When you are facing this situation, you might benefit from filing for a legal separation.
A legal separation is much like a divorce, except the parties are not free to marry someone else. Once a couple is legally separated, any property they acquire is theirs alone, and they are no longer responsible for each other’s debts.
Couples seeking a legal separation must go through a procedure to adjust their status. A Milford separation agreements lawyer can explain the pros and cons of seeking a separation and prepare the documents you need to submit to the court. Our dedicated family attorneys can guide you through this process.
Some couples seek a formal legal separation for religious reasons or because they want to continue receiving benefits available only to married couples. A couple who wishes to enter a legal separation must file a petition with the court stating legal grounds for the split. These include two no-fault grounds: the marriage is irretrievably broken, or the couple has lived apart continuously for 18 months.
Connecticut offers fault-based grounds for divorce or separation, but an individual must prove the grounds they allege. Selecting one of the no-fault grounds speeds up the process and can help keep it as non-adversarial as possible.
The court will consider a petition 90 days after the couple files. They can use that time to work with a lawyer in Milford on their separation agreement, or alternatively file a motion to waive the statutory 90-day waiting period if the parties are prepared to proceed immediately. When they have made mutually acceptable agreements, they can submit them to the court. The judge will approve and issue them as enforceable orders with a decree of legal separation.
When a married couple chooses to live separately, they must decide how to divide their property and debts and whether one spouse will receive continuing financial support from the other. If they have children, they must determine where the children will live, how much time they spend with the other parent, who makes life decisions for them, and child support obligations.
A couple might find mediation helpful if they have difficulty reaching a consensus. In these cases, a mediator might prepare a written document that each party could bring to their respective attorneys for review.
When the couple decides on the outstanding issues without a mediator’s help, a Milford attorney can draft a separation agreement that meets all the requirements under Connecticut law. The separation agreement will guide the couple’s relationship with each other and their children throughout the separation period. Should they eventually decide to divorce, they can motion the court to convert the legal separation to a dissolution of marriage.
The portion of the separation agreement that applies to co-parenting is called the parenting plan. According to Connecticut General Statutes § 46a-56(c), the judge must review the parenting plan to assess whether it supports the children’s best interests. They could consider many factors, including each parent’s ability to provide for the children’s needs, the stability of the parents’ respective homes, and, when appropriate, the children’s preferences.
When the judge doubts whether the plan serves the children’s best interests, the court might schedule a hearing to question the parents about the plan. A lawyer in Milford can help a couple draft a parenting plan for their separation agreement that satisfies the court’s legal standards.
Protect yourself and your children when you separate from your spouse by entering an enforceable agreement. This contract guides your relationship with each other until you reconcile or divorce.
A Milford separation agreements lawyer knows the issues that arise and can help you resolve them. Make an appointment today to discuss your legal options.