Are you considering a separation from your spouse? A trial separation can be a beneficial step towards resolving marital problems. This informal agreement allows couples to live apart temporarily and determine if they can work through their issues. While there’s no fixed timeline for a trial separation, it typically lasts a few weeks or months. Alternatively, a legal separation offers a more formal approach. Couples can seek court intervention to formalize their separation and establish official agreements regarding finances and children, if any.
Understanding Legal Separation Basics
In Oregon, either spouse can file for a legal separation in the county where they reside. There are no specific residency requirements for a legal separation, except that one spouse must live in the county where the action is filed. The filing spouse is responsible for submitting a petition and summons to the court, which must be served on the other spouse.
Once a legal separation is filed and properly served, a restraining order automatically goes into effect. This order prevents either spouse from disposing of or diminishing marital assets. However, certain expenses are allowed, such as attorney’s fees, real estate or income taxes, medical needs, and basic clothing, food, and shelter requirements for either spouse or their minor child(ren).
Additionally, a judge may issue a separation order to assist couples in dividing custody and fulfilling financial obligations while living apart. However, it’s important to note that a separation order can’t be granted for an unlimited duration in Oregon. Instead, it will last for a specified period, such as six months or a year. After the separation period expires, couples must decide whether to proceed with a divorce. If desired, either spouse can request a hearing where a judge will evaluate the family’s circumstances to determine appropriate orders.
Why Choose Separation over Divorce?
A separation offers distinct advantages over divorce. Many couples use this period to plan and reach agreements on asset division and child custody, which can expedite the divorce process and reduce costs significantly.
Furthermore, separation may be preferable for couples who are uncertain about proceeding with a divorce or who haven’t met the residency requirements necessary for divorce. To file for divorce in Oregon, one spouse must have continuously lived in the state for at least six months before submitting a divorce petition. On the other hand, legal separations only require that one spouse currently resides in the state.
From a financial standpoint, separations can make more sense than rushing into a divorce. For instance, if one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent, they may need time to find a job or obtain health insurance. Allowing this spouse to regain financial stability can mitigate the risk of an imbalanced alimony award and ensure both parties start the divorce in a more favorable financial position. Additionally, separations can maintain insurance coverage or allow children to finish the school year without significant disruption to their routine.
What Does a Separation Order Address?
A separation order addresses many of the same matters as a divorce. Its purpose is to minimize friction during the separation period and provide both spouses with adequate financial support. A separation order can divide property, distribute assets and debts, and decide child custody and visitation arrangements, including exchange locations and child support responsibilities.
Couples have the option of creating their own separation agreements and filing them with the court. If the agreement meets each spouse’s needs and serves the best interests of the child, the judge will approve the agreement and turn it into an official court order. Conversely, if the couple fails to reach an agreement, they will need to attend a hearing before a judge. The judge will review the pleadings, hear testimony, and evaluate the evidence to create a separation arrangement tailored to the family’s unique needs.
Impact on Custody in a Divorce
Although separation orders are temporary, they can significantly impact custody arrangements during a divorce. The factors evaluated by the judge during the legal separation proceeding will also hold relevance when filing for divorce. If the custody arrangement during the separation period proves successful, the judge is unlikely to make major adjustments in the divorce proceedings. It’s crucial to approach every court hearing and agreement seriously, as each aspect of your case can influence your chances of obtaining custody now and in the future.
If you have any questions or concerns, it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area.
Remember, Garrity Traina is here to provide expert guidance and support throughout the legal separation process. Visit Garrity Traina for more information.