If a couple is unsure about their marriage but do not necessarily want to divorce, Indiana permits one of the spouses to file an action for legal separation against the other. The action for legal separation is valid as long as one of the spouses has been a resident of Indiana for at least six months and one of the spouses has resided in the county of filing for at least three months.
What are the Grounds for a Legal Separation?
There are grounds for a legal separation like there are grounds for a divorce, but the grounds for a separation are different from those for divorce. The grounds for filing for legal separation are: a) that conditions in the marriage are so intolerable that the couple cannot stay together any longer, and b) nevertheless, the marriage should still be maintained. A separation is often used for couples to decide if they want to work on the marriage or if they will be heading for divorce.
How Long Can a Legal Separation Last?
A legal separation can last up to one year in Indiana. At the one-year mark, couples will have to decide whether to resume the marriage or whether to file an action for divorce.
A legal separation action cannot continue once one of the parties has filed for divorce. A spouse can file for divorce at any time during the year. The couple must actually live separate and apart during the legal separation action.
Can the Court Award Anything During the Legal Separation?
Yes. The court can order much of the same relief on a temporary basis as in a divorce action. That is, in a legal separation action, the court can order temporary:
- Child support
- Spousal support or maintenance
- Possession of property
- Counseling, so long as no one objects and no one has been abusive, and
- Restraining orders if needed
What is the Status of the Marriage During the Legal Separation?
While a divorce ends the marriage, a legal separation does not. The marriage is still in existence but the parties live apart. A legal separation gives the parties a chance to work on the marriage. If they do not work on the marriage, the separation prepares them for the inevitable divorce. If the couple cannot fix the marriage, the separation action may be able to be converted into an action for divorce.
Getting a legal separation is not required before getting a divorce in Indiana. A legal separation is a way to work on the marriage or give a “cooling off” period before a divorce. This means that the couple is given time to think about whether the marriage will stay together or not. Couples actually are supposed to work on their marriage during the time of separation.
Not all states allow for legal separation but Indiana does. It’s an alternative to heading immediately to a divorce. During the period of legal separation, a spouse can continue to receive health insurance and life insurance from the other spouse. On the other hand, debts that accrue during the period of separation could be owed by both spouses, so spouses would be well-advised to consult with an attorney if they are concerned about their partner’s spending habits.
Can Spouses Have a Separation Agreement?
Yes, but it’s not required. If the parties have a separation agreement, they do not have to seek court intervention for temporary orders because they will have resolved the main issues in their agreement.
Let a Carmel Divorce Lawyer Handle Your Separation Case for You
Our divorce lawyer handles not only divorces but also separation cases. The attorney will work with you to help you with any issues in your case, including preparing a separation agreement if you choose to have one. Contact Hains Law, LLC to learn about representation for your separation case.