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Legal separation may be preferred to divorce for some in Ohio

While every marriage has its ups and downs, sometimes arguments become so constant and unyielding that the core of the marriage begins to crumble. When spouses feel like they simply can no longer continue living as a married couple, they may think their only option is divorce. However, there are situations in which couples in Ohio who are facing a failing marriage may choose a legal separation rather than divorce.

There are a number of reasons why one would rather seek a legal separation than a divorce. Sometimes spouses no longer want to live together, but they also do not want to end their marriage. For example, some spouses' religious beliefs do not permit divorce. Other times a couple may want to stay married but live separately so that one spouse can stay on the other spouse's medical insurance policy (although insurers are increasingly not allowing policyholders to do this.) Or, some couples might want to formally live apart while they work out their differences or give themselves the breathing space needed to determine if they truly want to divorce. In the end, choosing a legal separation over divorce is a very personal decision.

To obtain a legal separation in Ohio, first a spouse must file a motion stating the grounds upon which the legal separation is sought. Some of these grounds include incompatibility, cheating on your spouse or abandoning the marriage for at least 12 months, among other grounds. Sometimes, even if one party pursues a legal separation, the other party may still pursue a divorce. Any temporary orders that would be obtainable in a divorce are also applicable to legal separations.

That being said, legal separations and divorce are not the same. Even if a couple legally separates, their marriage is still recognized by law. In a divorce, the marriage is terminated. However, many decisions that would be made in a divorce, such as property division, child custody, child support and alimony decisions, can also be made in a legal separation. A legal separation can become the basis of a divorce filing if one party moves the court to end the marriage.

As this shows, sometimes a legal separation is the preferred option to divorce. Couples in Ohio who are interested in a legal separation may be well-served to contact their attorney so they can learn more about this alternative to divorce.

Source: Ohio State Bar Association, "How Does a Legal Separation Differ from a Divorce or Dissolution?," Accessed Aug. 26, 2017

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