Indianapolis Legal Separation Attorney
Some couples who decide to separate choose legal separation over divorce. Legal separation may be your best option as an interim step to divorce or as a final solution with financial and personal benefits for both parties.
Our family law attorneys in Indianapolis have significant experience handling legal separations. Our Indianapolis legal separation attorneys know what is at stake in family law cases and will take every possible measure to avoid a contentious future with your spouse. We understand the sensitive nature of legal separation and are committed to protecting your best interests.
What Is Legal Separation?
Legal separation is an arrangement by which couples live apart but remain legally married, following a court order. The order issued by the court mandates the rights and duties of both spouses while they are legally separated. The most basic difference between legal separation and divorce is that the couple remains married and is not free to remarry.
A legal separation is far more formal than a decision to live apart. It involves a court-approved legal separation agreement with a plan for raising children, that divides property, and affects the financial connection spouses have with each other.
How Does Legal Separation Differ from Divorce?
Divorce and legal separation differ in several important ways:
- With a legal separation, couples retain their marital status and are not free to marry another.
- Reconciliation is simpler after a legal separation. There is no need to remarry, as there would be after a divorce.
- Legally separated spouses are considered next of kin and may still make financial or medical decisions for the other, whereas divorced spouses cannot.
- In a legal separation, each spouse’s rights to property benefits upon the death of the other spouse remain in place. These rights are extinguished in a divorce.
- Debts and liabilities, along with assets, are distributed among the spouses when a marriage is dissolved. In a legal separation, each spouse may still be responsible for the debts of the other.
- Unlike in a divorce, couples who are legally separated retain healthcare, Social Security, and other spousal benefits.
In What Ways Is Legal Separation Similar to Divorce?
The court makes some of the same decisions in a legal separation as it would in a divorce. As in a divorce, legal separation proceedings address:
Why Choose Legal Separation?
As an alternative to divorce, a legal separation may have personal and financial benefits for spouses. However, if you want to remarry, or see no financial benefits to legal separation, you may choose to go straight to divorce. Couples may choose legal separation for a variety of reasons, including:
- Religious prohibitions on divorce
- Financial protection while deciding whether to end the marriage
- Eligibility for health insurance coverage provided by one spouse’s employer
- Tax benefits from filing income taxes jointly
- Social Security and military benefits when a couple remains legally married for at least 10 years
How Do You Legally Separate From Your Spouse in Indiana?
First, you’ll file a petition with the court for a legal separation. Your spouse will be notified of the separation. A separation isn’t a divorce; the marriage is put on “pause,” but it still exists and is not dissolved. A separation does not necessarily lead to divorce, it simply allows two partners to temporarily separate. During a separation, child custody may need to be arranged. Separation is often the first step toward divorce, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Indiana does require 60 days of separation before a divorce takes place, as a sort of “cooling off” period.
Does Indiana Recognize Legal Separation?
Indiana actually requires 60 days of separation before a divorce, but that doesn’t mean that couples are automatically divorced after the separation. A legal separation essentially means that you are temporarily separated on a financial and legal level. It allows for child support and child custody agreements to be made, which may then carry over to the divorce later, although these agreements may also change. A divorce can be finalized after the separation window has passed.
How Much Does it Cost to File for Legal Separation in Indiana?
It depends. The filing fees for legal separation are under $200, but you may have other legal fees associated. Though you can just file for legal separation on your own, it’s better to have legal help. An attorney can help you draft child custody agreements, figure out child support, and determine spousal support. An attorney can also walk you through the process of dealing with family courts, filing for separation, and ultimately filing for a divorce.
Apart from the legal separation fees, there will also be eventual fees for the marriage dissolution. In general, each party pays for their own attorney during a divorce. In situations where one spouse has an income, but the other does not, though, spousal support and shared assets may be used to pay for an attorney.
How Long Does Legal Separation Take in Indiana?
Separation in Indiana takes 60 days minimum. After the 60-day waiting period, you’re allowed to finalize your divorce. But you might take longer to finalize your divorce, depending on how complicated it is, whether one party is contesting the terms, whether you have children, and whether there are extensive assets involved.
A separation itself can last as long as a year. At the end of a year, you and your spouse will need to determine whether you want to remain separated or whether you want to get divorced. Other states will let you remain separated from your spouse indefinitely, but there is a hard limit in Indiana.
Why Choose an Indianapolis Legal Separation Attorney?
Our experienced Indianapolis family law attorneys at Trapp Law, LLC understand that no two cases are the same. We work hard to develop creative and custom solutions for each client we represent. Our firm strives to deliver high quality, affordable legal services.
We offer a confidential initial consultation. Contact us if you are considering legal separation as an interim step or alternative to divorce.