Legal Separation Attorney
Legal Separation Procedure
In the State of Ohio a spouse may file for a legal separation from the other spouse. Unlike an action for divorce or dissolution, a legal separation, if granted, does not terminate the marriage but results in a court order which can be enforced by either spouse in court. If a spouse files a complaint for legal separation the matter will proceed much like a divorce action. When the complaint is filed the other spouse will be served with a copy of the complaint. The non-filing spouse will have twenty-eight (28) days from the date of being served with the complaint to serve an answer or other responsive pleading upon the spouse who filed the complaint. The court will then schedule the matter for a pre-trial conference. Prior to the pre-trial conference it is advisable for both spouses to accumulate documentation regarding assets and liabilities and provide that documentation to their respective legal counsel. After the pre-trial conference the judge may schedule the matter for a settlement conference, mediation or, if a settlement is not reached, a trial.
Contested vs. Non-Contested Legal Separation
As in an action for divorce, a legal separation begins when the spouses cannot reach an agreement on all of the issues which must be determined. Those issues include, but are not necessarily limited to, the division of property, allocation of liabilities and matters concerning the custody of minor children of the marriage. If the issues are not agreed to, or otherwise settled, the judge will schedule the matter for a settlement conference, mediation and/or trial. Any agreement entered into by the parties will be reduced to writing and submitted to the judge for approval. Any issues which remain shall be tried to the judge for determination.
Grounds for Legal Separation
The grounds for legal separation in the State of Ohio are essentially the same as the grounds which must be proven by a spouse in an action for divorce. The grounds for legal separation are as follows:
*Either spouse had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage from which legal separation is sought;
*Willful absence of the adverse party for one year;
* Gross Neglect of Duty;
*Imprisonment of the adverse party in a state or federal correctional facility at the time of filing the complaint;
*Living separate and apart without interruption for one year without cohabitation; or
*Incompatibility, unless denied by either spouse.
Major Legal Separation Issues
The issues which must be addressed and resolved in an action for legal separation are essentially the same as the issues which must be addressed in an action for divorce or dissolution. Those issues are too numerous to list. Every legal separation case is different and it is important to discuss your domestic relations matter with an experienced legal separation attorney. A sample of the issues which are common in legal separations are as follows:
*Division of marital property, including household goods, furnishings, personal property, real estate, pension and retirement benefits;
*Allocation of marital debt;
*Custody of Minor Children, (Sole Custody/Split Custody/Shared Parenting);
*Parenting Time (Visitation) of Minor Children; and
*Spousal Support (Alimony)
Legal Separation vs. Divorce or Dissolution
As previously discussed, a legal separation will address essentially the same marital issues as a divorce or dissolution without terminating the marital relationship. A legal separation may be preferable to a divorce or dissolution where both spouses desire to remain married, live separately and desire an order which can be enforced in a court of law during the period of separation. A decree of legal separation or a request for legal separation does not prevent the other spouse from filing a counterclaim for divorce or obtaining a divorce, thereby terminating the marriage, if grounds exist to do so.
If you are experiencing marital difficulties, contemplating a legal separation or simply have questions or concerns regarding the options under the law which are available to you, it is advisable to contact an experienced legal separation attorney to advise you of your rights. At W. Randall Rock, Attorney at Law, we have over 32 years of experience in advising those looking for answers to their marital controversies and assisting them in making the best decision given their circumstances and needs. If you have questions or concerns regarding a legal separation CONTACT OUR OFFICE NOW. Together we can navigate and calm your legal concerns.
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