Sometimes when couples are considering a divorce they opt for a legal separation first. This allows the couple to take a break from the relationship, and determine if a divorce is the right decision. Legal separations are a middle ground between divorce and marriage. They offer certain benefits which are not legally enforceable in an informal arrangement. These include rights concerning child custody, financial support and insurance benefits. If you are considering a legal separation, there are a few things you should know.
Under Utah Code section 30-3-18, divorcing couples are required to wait 90 days from filing for the decree to be approved by a judge. However, effective 5/8/2018, proposed legislation has shortened this time period to 30 days. Yet, according to Utah’s family law process, those filing for legal separation are not subject to this waiting period.
In order to file for divorce both parties must reside in the state for a specified period of time. The same holds true for legal separations. Although the process involving separations is shorter, you must still prove residency before initiating a legal separation. Both parties must have resided in Utah for at least 90 days prior to filing.
In a divorce, the court will break down community debt and assign portions to either party. In a legal separation, both parties remain responsible for all community debt. A family law lawyer can assist in creating a separation agreement that assigns responsibility to a party. However, these arrangements rely on the good faith of the parties. If a responsible fails or refuses to pay for a debt, the creditors can still seek payment from the other party.
Most health insurance companies will terminate coverage for the non-policyholder following a divorce. Other agencies may change the type of coverage, or raise the cost. You can avoid this unfortunate event by filing for a legal separation instead. In most cases, insurance companies will not modify coverage due to the fact that the couple is not legally divorced.
The above items are only some of the considerations involved in a legal separation. For additional information or advice contact a family law attorney. The law firm of T.R. Spencer Law Office can assist in all family law matters including child custody, visitation rights and divorce.