Legal Separation or Divorce?
A Delay Could be Hazardous
When the marriage reaches that critical moment. When its time to call it quits? To move on with life? Should you just move out and do nothing? How long should you wait to take legal action? This all of course depends on your specific situation. But lets look at the hazards of waiting to take legal action. This by no means is intended to encourage a person to rush into a divorce or legal separation. But, failing to act could cause a major problem. Informal marital separation can and often does lead to unforeseen complications.
Child Custody Complications Without Legal Separation or Divorce
When parents are married, the custody of the children is in both parents equally. If the parents separate without a court order, there are very few limitations on either parent. One parent could take the children to another state. Even several states away. It is perfectly legal under most circumstances. This can make things quite complicated. But, if you file for legal separation or divorce, the law protects you. In Tennessee a statutory injunction restrains the parties from doing such things. The Court can also order certain things to be or not be done.
Problems with Multiple State Separations
Although this doesn’t happen in every family, it does occur often. Husband and wife separate, but take no legal action. No divorce attorney. No legal guidance. The children live with mom. Dad picks up the children for visitation. Dad may even pay some child support. Sounds great, right? Every one is getting along, without a court order. But, what if dad takes the children to another state. Maybe he lives in another state. Then he decides to file for divorce in the other state. Now you have a very complicated situation, that may require a jurisdictional question to be resolved between the courts in two (2) states. There are Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Laws in most states. These laws guide the courts in a legal separation or divorce action. However, the legal bills mount up when having to deal with multiple courts. Often times more than one divorce attorney is needed as well.
Same State of Residence, Still Problems Arise
Maybe dad lives in the same state, but decides not to return the children to mom. Now there is a possession issue. Outside of a court order mom would be unable to force dad to return the children to her care. Now a divorce or legal separation action must be filed immediately. Even if the timing is not right financially. And, it could very well run the legal costs up much higher. School district conflicts are also possible.
A Divorce Lawyer is Needed to Fix the Mess
These are just a few examples of what can happen with child custody when parents separate but don’t seek a legal separation or divorce. Ultimately, very few such situations remain uncomplicated for a long period of time. Unless the parties reunite, eventually a divorce lawyer is necessary to untangle the mess that is created. If your not ready for a divorce but must live separately, seek legal advice. A legal separation may best for now. At least the court orders will be enforceable.
Financial Woes Outside of Legal Separation or Divorce
A legal separation or divorce resolves financial issues between the parties. A divorce provides for a final disposition of property and other financial arrangements for all time. A legal separation provides for the assignment of debts and expenses. Legal separation can also provide for property disposition by agreement. However, without the intervention of a court, the financial agreements of the spouses is about as good as the agreement to remain married for life. Such informal agreements usually fall apart. This can lead to financial disaster. Also, because the parties are still legally married, financial liability remains for each other. You may be held responsible for the financial sins of your spouse. Such as a bad car wreck, or hospital bills, etc. Retirement accounts continue to vest an interest in your spouse as well.
Seek Legal Advice from a Divorce Lawyer Sooner then Later
There are way too many complications that arise from informal separations to list here. Suffice it to say that the risk is very high that a major problem will arisearise. Forcing you to take legal action. The best way to prevent such problems? Seek legal advice from a divorce lawyer, immediately. When you decide it is time to separate, consult with a divorce attorney before you move out. The lawyer will review your situation and give you the guidance you need. Maybe your not ready for the finality of a divorce. Legal separation may be the right option. Speak to a family law attorney about your situation today.
Chattanooga Divorce attorney Jim Purple has been providing the answers since 1982. Contact Purple Law Firm today.