Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Which option is right for you?

Clients contemplating divorce often have questions about legal separation.  Typically, they want to know how legal separation differs from divorce, and which option is best for them.  What should you know about the two?

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Legal separation is, like a divorce proceeding, a legal proceeding that formally separates you from your spouse. To grant a legal separation, an Indiana Court must find that conditions in the marriage are currently so intolerable that the couple cannot live together, but the marriage itself should nevertheless be maintained. A legal separation is not required before filing for divorce in Indiana.

During a legal separation, you may reach an agreement or obtain court orders that set forth what both spouses will do during the period of legal separation, addressing matters such as custody, parenting time, child support, and financial issues related to the marriage.  Any orders or agreements entered during a legal separation end when the legal separation ends.  A legal separation can last up to one year.  After one year, you will need to decide if you want to get a divorce or reconcile with your spouse.  If you choose to proceed with divorce proceedings, your legal-separation case can be converted to a divorce proceeding.

By contrast, divorce proceedings, once complete, permanently terminate your marriage, and permanently divide your marital property.  During a divorce, you may also reach an agreement or obtain court orders regarding child-related issues, although those may be modified in the future. Divorce proceedings may, and often do, last more than one year.  If one spouse initiates divorce proceedings, the other spouse may not then petition the Court for legal separation.

Legal separation may be right for couples who are not certain they want to end the marriage, but nonetheless desire a trial separation.  The attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C., are available to speak to you about which option is right for you. Call us at (317) 580-9295; your future is our concern.

How to Pick the Right Divorce Lawyer

One of the most important decisions you can make in the divorce process is who your attorney will be.  For some, the divorce process can take many months or even years.  Having the right attorney to help you navigate the process can make all the difference. How, then, can you make the right choice?

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1. Do your homework: Research, research, research. Talk to friends, family, and co-workers. Get online: many law firms now have attorney profiles, blogs, and social media accounts—check them out. Find out if the firm or attorney you’re looking at specializes in divorce or family law, or if they handle such cases routinely.

2. Ask questions and share information: When you’re ready, schedule a meeting with the attorney you’re considering hiring. While the attorney will certainly have many questions about your legal matter, you should have questions too.  How long has the attorney been practicing? Is this their area of expertise? How do they bill? Do they work with other attorneys? Do they have a paralegal? How do they typically handle a matter like yours? Ask the attorney how he or she views your legal matter. Is your position reasonable? How might a judge view a particular request? What might your spouse request in return? Where might there be conflicts? Share your priorities, and make sure you tell the attorney what matters to you with respect to your case.

3. Keep communicating: When you hire an attorney, they represent you and your interests. To enable your attorney to do their best work, you should be honest and open with him or her throughout the process. There will likely be times you feel upset or anxious about your case, and sometimes you will need to share your thoughts and feelings with your attorney or their staff so that you are on the same page.

Selecting the right attorney to assist you with your divorce is critical. Your attorney should be someone you trust, and ideally, someone with whom you can connect. The attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer are available to meet with you to discuss your divorce or other family-law matter at any time.

Call us at (317) 580-9295; your future is our concern.