Married couples go through ups and downs, which can bring their relationship to the breaking point. If you need time away from your spouse but aren’t certain that you want to fully dissolve your marriage, a legal separation may be appropriate. At Butler & Flynn, PLLC, in Oklahoma City, our family law attorneys help clients reach separation settlements that protect their rights and provide for their children’s welfare.
In a legal separation, spouses agree to live separately without dissolving their marriage. They must resolve the same basic questions they would in a divorce: alimony, child custody and child support. However, the final disposition of marital property is often held in abeyance. The other major difference is that legally separated spouses are not free to remarry.
The process for legal separation is very similar to that for divorce. The advantage of legal separation is that you don’t have a six-month residency requirement or a 90-day waiting period. You can file for a legal separation the very day you arrive in Oklahoma and the court can grant your separation immediately.
The petitioning spouse can file no-fault or cite traditional grounds for the separation. The spouses generally reach a settlement agreement via negotiation or mediation and present that document to the court for approval. If the couple cannot reach a complete settlement, any unresolved issues go to trial before a judge who rules on those matters.
There are many reasons for a couple to choose legal separation instead of divorce:
Whatever your reasons, our family law attorneys provide personalized support to reach a settlement that suits your unique circumstances.
Once you have a legal separation, you can live under the terms of your court order indefinitely. However, there may eventually come a time when you either reconcile or decide to pursue a permanent divorce. If you want a divorce, you can use your separation agreement as the basis for a divorce decree by petitioning for what is called a conversion divorce. If your spouse does not object, the process is very simple. The court simply uses your separation agreement for the basis of the divorce decree. Of course, if you haven’t finalized the division of your property, now is the time to do so.
On the other hand, if you have found that living under your separation agreement is impractical, or if circumstances have changed significantly, you may want to renegotiate the terms. For example, a dependent spouse who has been receiving alimony may have completed a course of study or job training, or may have gotten a job. If the dependent spouse is now self-supporting, alimony might be unnecessary.
Before you decide simply to convert your separation agreement to a divorce decree, you should consult an experienced family law attorney who can review the document and inform you about issues you might not have considered. At Butler & Flynn, we take meticulous care to advise you on seemingly minute details that can make a significant difference to your future.
Butler & Flynn, PLLC represents Oklahoma clients in the process to obtain a legal separation. To meet with a knowledgeable family law attorney, please call 405-416-2711 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation at our Oklahoma City office.