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If you and your spouse are having marriage troubles, you may have considered a few different options. If legal separation was one of them, you may be wondering how a legal separation could benefit you, your spouse and your marriage. Here are some common questions that might help you make the right decision.

What is legal separation?

Legally separating from your spouse means you are no longer together, but you remain legally married. Rather than simply “taking a break,” however, a court will declare you officially separated in a legal separation.

Who can file for legal separation?

Some states don’t recognize legal separation as a legitimate means of ending a relationship. Luckily, Ohio residents can seek a legal separation. Legal separation is for anyone who doesn’t wish to entirely dissolve their marriage. One common reason why couples seek legal separation is because they wish to end their marriage knowing that they won’t remarry in the future.

How do we file for legal separation?

Before you take any steps, you’ll want to make sure that you have grounds for separation. Ohio recognizes the following reasons for a separation:

  • Incompatibility (both spouses must agree to this)
  • Willful absence of one spouse for more than a year
  • Imprisonment of one spouse
  • Constant drunkenness
  • Adultery
  • Cruelty or domestic abuse
  • Neglect of duty

The process to separate from your spouse starts with filing a petition to separate. You and your spouse will need to sign a separation agreement once the court grants your separation. Then you’ll begin the process of dividing assets, determining spousal support and figuring out child custody agreements.

What are the benefits of a legal separation?

As mentioned above, a legal separation allows you and your spouse to seek asset division, plan co-parenting schedules and receive alimony. Because legal separation allows you and your spouse to remain married, there are also certain financial advantages that you can include in your separation agreement, such as health care coverage and filing income taxes.

Finally, becoming legally separated gives you and your spouse the time you need to decide what your next move will be. Can you reconcile your differences and reverse your legal separation? Or has this process made you realize that you need a divorce? Other times, some couples find that legal separation is, in and of itself, the best solution for them.