Assisting Clients With Legal Separation In Georgia
A separation is when married partners choose to live separate lives but not formally end their marriage. Married couples in Georgia can separate by requesting a “separate maintenance agreement” order from the court. However, if one spouse wants to divorce, a divorce will occur. A separation can only occur if both spouses agree that a separation is best and that, for whatever reason, divorce is not an option at that time.
There are a variety of reasons for choosing separation over divorce. A couple may choose not to legally end the marriage due to:
- Religious beliefs
- Financial reasons, such as pension plan benefits
- Health care reasons, including access to health insurance through a spouse
- The couple mutually not being ready to end the marriage through divorce
- Neither spouse desiring to remarry
Although the separation is agreed upon by the parties, they do not necessarily have to agree on the terms of the separation. The court can still consider requests for child and spousal support just as it would during a divorce. Similar to divorce, the process is most efficient when both parties agree on issues such as alimony, child support, visitation and property division. In that case, the judge is likely to sign the agreement presented if it seems fair to both parties. When spouses do not agree on issues, the separation may go to trial, similar to divorce proceedings.
Ultimately, couples who are happy with the separation agreement and later opt for divorce can use the separation agreement as a template for the divorce.
A legal separation is a court-approved contract between two spouses in which they outline how they will address issues such as:
- Division of marital assets and property: Since this can be incredibly complex – both legally and emotionally – getting help from an attorney is often advised, especially if you want to ensure fair and equitable distribution of assets, both monetary and real.
- Division and/or payment of marital debts: If you still jointly owe money on your home, vehicles, credit cards, loans and/or other debts, I can help you appropriate these liabilities in a fair and equitable manner.
- Child custody agreements: I will do my best to help reduce your stress as well as any conflicts surrounding your child custody agreement by keeping the focus on the best interests of the child. I can help you agree to the child’s primary residence, which parent will make important life decisions, where the child will attend school and more.
- Child support agreements: Because both parents are expected to contribute to the cost of raising a child or their children, coming to an agreement on a fair child support order is crucial. I can help you negotiate your finances to determine payments that will not only be fair but beneficial to your child or children.
- Spousal support orders: If you are the low-income earner in your household and separation would cause you to suffer financial hardship, you may be able to negotiate receipt of spousal support payments from your former spouse. You may also secure a court order from a judge.