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As soon as you decide to file for legal separation from your spouse, you’ll need to be aware that the legal separation is as legally binding as a divorce. The only difference is that on paper, your marriage is still legally intact. The division of living arrangements, finance, and custody will be similar to a divorce. Additionally, if you then decide to file for divorce, anything you agree to in a legal separation agreement will set the right precedent. For example, if you decide to allow your partner to live in your marital home when you file for a legal separation, it will set precedent when you file for divorce. Before applying, download separation agreement template and check for it.

If a judge rules that you must continue making mortgage payments after a divorce, then you are likely to continue making them.

How to apply for the legal separation?

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Step 1:

  • To learn about your state’s residency requirements, check the divorce laws of your state
  • Your state’s divorce laws will tell you what residency requirements you must meet for legal separation and divorce
  • For instance, a couple living in California can file for legal separation if one or both of the parties live there
  • Domestic partnerships may also file for legal separation if they were registered in California

Step 2:

  • A legal separation petition must be filed with the court once residency requirements are met
  • You can do this either by hiring an attorney or by using online resources such as the state government’s website, or by contacting your court clerk and filing on your own, otherwise known as procedural separations

Step 3:

  • When you file your legal separation petition, you should also download separation agreement template that outlines all aspects of the separation, including child custody, child support, visitation rights, and spousal support
  • This agreement should also address your marital assets such as your home or any vehicles that you purchased together

Step 4:

  • When you file a petition for legal separation, your spouse must be served, even if you are not filing together
  • Just like with divorce, your spouse will typically have 30 days to respond to your petition

Step 5:

  • During mediation or collaborative law, if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement about the provisions in the petition
  • You will have to go before a judge to decide the issues you were unable to resolve