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It is difficult to make the decision to separate from your spouse.  Although the term “separation” may seem like a simple concept there are four types of separation that are recognized:

Trial Separation

This is when a couple decides to live apart for a while and whether or not to proceed with a permanent separation.  Even if the couple decides not to get back together, their assets and debts accumulated and incurred during the trial period are general considered jointly owned. A trial separation is usually not legally recognized.

Living Apart

The couple decides to no longer live in the same home.  Some states consider accumulated and debts incurred while living apart to be the sole property or debt of the person who accumulated or incurred it.  In other states, property and debt is joint unless and until a divorce complaint is filed in court.

Permanent Separation

A couple decides to permanently split, sometimes following a trial separation, or it may begin immediately when the couples starts to live apart.  In some states, all assets received and incurred after the permanent separation are considered separate property and sole responsibility of the spouse incurring them.  In other states the assets and debts are considered joint, regardless of when you separate, until divorce papers are filed.

Legal Separation

When a couples lives apart and a court rules on the division of assets, child custody, visitation, and financial support-but does not grant a divorce.

Deciding how a couple separates can have great impact on your finances and your parental rights.  It is important to seek legal guidance before you decide to separate to help you decide which way is the best for your current circumstances.


Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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