What is the Difference Between Uncontested Divorce and Mediation?

What is the Difference Between Uncontested Divorce and Mediation?

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce allows you and your spouse to settle divorce issues, such as division of assets and child custody, outside of the court. This makes the process cheaper and quicker than most other types of divorce. In turn, it creates less tension between you and your spouse. If the two of you cannot settle certain issues alone, you can always hire lawyers to get involved. It gives both of you more control over the outcome while other types of divorce will give a judge the power to make those decisions for you.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is similar to an uncontested divorce except it involves a mediator. This mediator may or may not be a lawyer, but they can help you and your spouse come to an agreement without having to do so on your own or through lawyers. The mediator you choose should have extensive knowledge of divorce and family law, and they should be unbiased. Their role is not to give advice or speak on either party’s behalf but to make sure the conversation about the agreement stays on topic and doesn’t get out of hand. Both parties will then be able to make more informed decisions and steer clear of frequent arguing.

 

If the mediator sees fit that a couple would do better with a different type of divorce due to disagreements, they can discontinue mediation and refer the couple elsewhere. Or, if issues arise within specific areas that someone else would be better suited to handle, such as financial problems, the mediator can refer you out to another professional to discuss that certain issue. But they would continue to mediate other areas of the divorce.

 

In addition to a mediator, spouses should consult their lawyers or attorneys throughout the process–from the very beginning to the day they sign the agreement. Each lawyer or attorney will check if the agreement is in their client’s favor. They will make sure it is as fair and well-written as possible at each step of the process by searching for any flaws or holes within the agreement.

How Does Each Process Work?

Before the divorce process starts, you will have to decide whether to file for an at-fault or no-fault divorce. In an at-fault divorce, there are specific grounds you have to file under that require definitive proof of your allegations. In the state of South Carolina, you can file under one of the following grounds: adultery, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness/narcotics abuse, and desertion. If you do not have evidence of proof for one of the grounds, you will likely have to proceed with a no-fault divorce. Typically, though, no-fault divorces are filed when nobody is at fault and a couple just wants to end their marriage; sometimes this is mutual, other times it is not. If you decide to file for a no-fault divorce, you and your partner will have to live apart for at least one year and provide proof of separation before you can proceed with the divorce. 

Uncontested Divorce

First, you or your spouse will file for divorce. From there, the two of you can discuss whether you would like to try and create a divorce settlement agreement between yourselves or have lawyers involved. After that, you will work to come to a fair agreement that will suit you both equally. That agreement will then be sent to a judge for review. This does not mean you go to court; the paperwork will simply be sent to a judge. That judge will then decide whether to approve or deny your agreement based on the terms you provided.

 

If a judge approves your agreement, your case will be sealed, your marriage will officially be terminated, and your agreement will go into effect. At this point, it will be difficult for you or a judge to make any changes to the agreement, so it is important that you, your spouse, and any lawyers make sure the agreement is foolproof and suits both parties as equally as possible. On the other hand, if the judge denies the agreement, you will need to make changes. The typical reason agreements get denied is issues with child custody.

Mediation

Mediation also starts with filing for divorce. Afterward, you connect with a mediator, who guides your discussions about the divorce settlement agreement. They will keep you and your spouse on track and help you avoid getting into arguments. After each mediation session, you will want to discuss any changes made to the agreement with your lawyer or attorney. They can help you determine what seems fair and what doesn’t since your mediator cannot provide legal advice. They can also make sure there aren’t any loopholes or confusing statements within the agreement.

 

Once you, your spouse, and your mediator come up with a final agreement, you should have your lawyer or attorney look it over one last time to make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies before you sign. Once they give you the go-ahead, you can sign the agreement. After the agreement is signed by both parties, it will be sent to a judge for review. From there, the process will continue just as an uncontested divorce would.

When Should I Choose Uncontested Divorce as Opposed to Mediation and Vice Versa?

Uncontested Divorce

Within an uncontested divorce, you have the choice to settle your case with or without lawyers. If you attempt to do it yourself, the process may take longer, and you will be doing most of the work yourself. You will have to research divorce and family law, understand how to apply it to your case, and then come up with a settlement–without the help of a lawyer or mediator. But most people do not want to do all of the work themselves and will hire a lawyer to manage the case on their behalf. The lawyer then does all of the work for you and handles the legal side of things with your input.

 

In the case that you and your spouse handle the entire case without any lawyers, this would be the cheapest option. However, it will take a lot more time unless you and/or your spouse already know divorce and family law well. If you go the route with lawyers, this will take less time than a do-it-yourself divorce but will cost a lot more. In comparison to mediation, either course you take within an uncontested divorce will likely be more time-consuming than mediation. However, with an uncontested divorce, you can be confident, knowing a lawyer is constantly working directly by your side.

Mediation

With mediation, spouses settle disagreements in the presence of a mediator. That mediator will help conversations move along smoothly by keeping everyone on track. Since everyone is in the same room, at the same time, they receive the same information all at once, which can make the process go by quicker than an uncontested divorce. In uncontested divorces, meetings with lawyers typically occur separately; therefore, each spouse receives different information, from different lawyers, at different times. This can make it take longer for each issue to be resolved because lawyers have to send drafts back and forth throughout the process.

 

Both options are going to be more cost-effective than other types of divorce, but it will depend on your situation whether mediation or uncontested divorce is cheaper for you. Mediators typically charge less than lawyers per hour, and you’re only paying one person as opposed to two with an uncontested divorce. In addition, it is more direct, which can allow for a quicker process. But not always. Although information can circulate quicker during mediation, the amount of time it takes to resolve each issue can affect the overall timeline. If it takes you and your spouse longer to come to agreements about your issues, you may end up meeting with your mediator more often than you would with lawyers during an uncontested divorce. As a result, this can make mediation more costly in the long run, even though mediators cost less per hour.

Bottom Line

In the end, the process that will work better for you will depend on the relationship you have with your spouse and how much time, effort, and money you are both willing to spend. 

When Should I Look Into Other Options?

Neither option will work great for couples with a power imbalance; these cases can end up with poor negotiations as well as unfair agreements. This is typically true of those filing for an at-fault divorce. If abuse or neglect was involved in any way, you should look to a contested divorce for help. An uncontested divorce that involves lawyers might still be a practical option in this situation, but it all depends on how good of a lawyer you have and whether or not you will be speaking directly with your spouse. You don’t want to wind up getting the short end of the stick, so it’s best to choose an option that can accommodate your wants and needs the best.

 

If you would like to discuss your options further, feel free to contact Christine Howard and her team by phone (864) 282-8575 or email info@christinehoward.com. They can help you figure out the best route to take if you are still unsure of where to start, or they can discuss the next steps within the current route you are on. 

 

Sources:

Collins, Forrest. “Picking the Right Process – Uncontested Divorce vs. Kitchen Table Mediation.” Forrest Collins, P.C., 22 Sept. 2015, https://www.mediatingattorney.com/picking-the-right-process-uncontested-divorce-vs-kitchen-table-mediation/#:~:text=The%20main%20difference%20between%20these,participates%20in%20the%20uncontested%20divorce. 

 

Alternatives to Uncontested Divorce

Alternatives to Uncontested Divorce

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is a type of divorce that allows you and your spouse to settle all your issues outside of the court. This makes the process cheaper and allows it to go much quicker and smoother than other types of divorce. In turn, it creates less tension between you and your spouse. If the two of you cannot settle certain issues alone, you can always hire lawyers to get involved. This may seem more intense, but it can actually keep things more civil and less stressful than any other divorce process. It also gives both of you more control over the outcome–even if you have to make compromises. Other types of divorce will give a judge the power to make those decisions for you. In those cases, neither of you gets a say in how the situation plays out.

It’s important to look at all of your options and choose the right one for your unique situation. Take a look below at the alternatives to uncontested divorce.

Types of Uncontested Divorces

Lawyer vs No Lawyer Uncontested Divorces

Some uncontested divorces involve lawyers while others do not. It all depends on you and your spouse’s ability to come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce. If it’s too difficult or is impossible to do without arguing, you may need to hire divorce lawyers to help you both come to a final agreement. Keep in mind that if you hire a lawyer, you cannot simply hire one lawyer to “represent the relationship;” they will only represent a single person. Therefore, you would both need your own lawyers. 

However, if you truly believe you can come to a fair agreement with your spouse on your own, this may be more ideal for you. It would take a great emotional toll, and you would have to research or be knowledgeable of the state’s laws and do a lot of preparation on your own. But it is still possible for some people and would be much cheaper since you would not have to pay lawyers to do the work for you. The good thing is, you can always start out this way and hire lawyers later if it gets to be too complicated or difficult to handle on your own.

Simple Divorce

This is a subtype of uncontested divorce. It involves a similar process but requires less paperwork and deliberation. It is actually faster and cheaper than a normal uncontested divorce–which is already the quickest and cheapest type–but is only feasible for certain relationships. A couple who acquires a simple divorce will typically have limited assets–no children, debt, property, etc.–which is what makes it so quick and cheap. If you’re involved in a more complicated situation, you may want to look at your other options.

At-fault vs No-fault Divorce

These categories are actually non-specific to uncontested divorces; they are applicable to both uncontested and contested divorces. The way they play out in each type of divorce, however, is what makes the difference.

In a no-fault uncontested divorce, both parties sign an agreement and never visit a courtroom in the process. In an at-fault uncontested divorce, the only person who goes to court is the spouse testifying. “At-fault” means one of the spouses has violated one or more grounds for divorce, so the other will have to testify against them for that reason. It may seem counterintuitive, but the reason this is still considered uncontested is that the spouse who is at fault has realized their wrongdoings, admitted to them, and agreed to end their marriage based on their actions. They have also agreed not to show up to the court hearing so that the testimony goes unopposed. The very purpose of an uncontested divorce is to make things run smoothly and peacefully, so both spouses will be on the same page if this is the course of action they decide to take.

Alternatives to Uncontested Divorce:

Counseling

This is the best alternative to uncontested divorce if you and your spouse aren’t quite ready to give up on your marriage. Even if you do decide to divorce or separate, counseling is still a great option–especially if you have kids or another kind of connection–to keep you and your ex on good, or at least neutral, terms. Many people may look down on this option or disregard it due to preconceived notions or bad experiences. The good thing is, there’s no harm in trying if you never have before. And if you have, but it didn’t seem to work, it’s likely that you simply had the wrong therapist.

It can take some time to find the right therapist, but it is possible. And once you do, it can really make a difference. For some, it may take longer than others, but it’s bound to help in one way or another. It can only help, however, if you both work hard for it. Lying or holding back during sessions can have a large impact on its effectiveness, so it’s imperative that you tell the truth and fully express your thoughts.

Separation

Since legal separations are not recognized in the state of South Carolina, you have two other options: simply living apart from your spouse or obtaining an Order of Separate Maintenance and Support (OSMS). If you simply live apart from your spouse, no legal action will be taken toward asset division or child custody. Nothing will ever be completely settled or divided, and custody will remain the same. It allows couples to get organized and gather themselves before actually getting divorced. This option is commonly used at the beginning stages of a no-fault divorce since you have to live apart from your spouse for at least one year before you can legally terminate your marriage. In addition, it is often used in combination with Orders of Separate Maintenance and Support.

An Order of Separate Maintenance and Support will initially entail temporary legal arrangements for your division of assets, child custody and visitation, and alimony. An OSMS requires that both parties live apart (with no specific time requirement) or that fault grounds be proven. Once the case is resolved by a judge, a final agreement will go into effect and last more permanently. It will not, however, cover the issue of divorce and will not terminate your marriage. Therefore, if you decide to go through with a more long-term separation, you will not be able to remarry until you get an actual divorce. But it will give you more time to work things back out in your relationship, to fully agree upon getting a divorce, or to gather the financials a divorce demands while simultaneously receiving the legal benefits of both marriage and divorce, similar to that of a legal separation.

Annulment 

While a divorce terminates your marriage but is still kept documented, an annulment makes it as if your marriage never existed. Annulments are the least likely alternative because only some people are eligible for them, and it takes evidence to prove your eligibility. This proof is meant to show that the marriage should never have taken place to begin with. For this reason, annulments are typically granted soon after a marriage occurs–not years later. A judge might find a couple eligible if coercion, fraud, or incest took place, or if one or both parties were mentally incompetent or underage and, therefore, could not consent to the marriage. Consummation and cohabitation are also factors in your eligibility, despite your reason for getting the annulment.

Mediation 

During mediation, a couple will work with a mediator to help them come to an agreement for their divorce. This mediator may or may not be a lawyer but should know the ins and outs of divorce as well as family law. They should also be neutral and unbiased. It is crucial you choose an unbiased and knowledgeable mediator; otherwise, things can go south quickly. If they’re biased, you could end up on the short side of the stick with unfavorable terms in the agreement. If they don’t know what they’re doing, they can make things worse by failing to negotiate properly or by poorly drafting an agreement. But if they are, in fact, good at what they do, you can end up with a more favorable agreement than you and your spouse could have come up with on your own.

In addition to using a mediator, spouses should consult their lawyers throughout the process. This makes mediations more costly than an uncontested divorce, but they are still cheaper than other options.

If you or someone you know are considering divorce but would like to learn more about your options, feel free to contact Christine Howard and her team at (864) 282-8575 or info@christinehoward.com. They can discuss alternatives to uncontested divorce with you and help you figure out the best way to move forward.

 

Sources:

“No-Fault vs. Fault vs. Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce.” Davis Divorce Law, 24 July, 2018, https://padivorce.com/no-fault-vs-fault-vs-contested-vs-uncontested-divorce/. 

South Carolina Bar. “Legal Separation.” South Carolina Bar, https://www.scbar.org/public/get-legal-help/common-legal-topics/legal-separation/

How to Know You’re Ready for a Divorce

How to Know You’re Ready for a Divorce

What are the main causes of divorce? (in order of most to least common):

  1. Extramarital affairs/infidelity
  2. Financial problems
  3. Substance abuse
  4. Domestic abuse
  5. Commitment issues
  6. Lack of communication
  7. Conflict/constant arguing
  8. Lack of physical or emotional intimacy
  9. Incompatibility/differing values, morals, and/or beliefs
  10. Young or rushed marriage
  11. Not carrying one’s weight in the relationship
  12. Health problems or mental illness
  13. Abandonment

Questions to Ask Yourself

Whether you’ve just started thinking about divorce or have been thinking about it for a while now, it’s always a difficult subject to consider. You’re likely reading this because you aren’t quite sure if you’re ready to actually go through with a divorce yet. That’s exactly what we’re here to help you decide. We want you to feel confident in your decision, whether you decide to go through with it or not. But we know that divorce isn’t ideal, so if your issue has a solution, we want you to know about it. Below are some questions to think about and some ways to manage any issues you discover through the process.

Will you truly be better off without your partner? Is the relationship worth giving up?

Think about your relationship and what your priorities and needs are. Can your partner meet those most basic needs? Do the positives of the relationship outweigh the negatives? Are you still in love with your partner? (And if so, is the feeling reciprocated–both through words and actions?) Does your partner treat you well–both mentally and physically? If you answered yes to most of the questions above but still feel that something just isn’t working, continue down the list of questions below. 

If you answered no to most of the questions above, don’t call it quits just yet. There are still ways to fix these issues if you’re both willing to put in the work for it. The most effective way of doing so is through professional counseling. You really have nothing to lose from it. And therapy is much cheaper than a divorce.

But maybe you have tried therapy in the past, and it didn’t work. There are a number of reasons this could be the case. One of the most common reasons is from having the wrong therapist. If your therapist doesn’t feel like the right fit, try going with someone else. The therapist will completely understand. In fact, they encourage switching counselors if you don’t feel like a match. Because one of the most important parts of working therapy is connecting with your counselor and being able to feel like you’re in a safe space around them. That said, another reason therapy might not have worked in the past is if you or your spouse didn’t fully express your thoughts or feelings in therapy in the past. The only way for it to work is if you’re both open and honest. It can be scary or hard to do so at first, but it can be very rewarding in the end. It’s only a small price to pay for such an important relationship in your life.

Is this relationship something that could be fixed?

Now that you’ve thought about your priorities and needs in the relationship, think about the pros and cons, and write them down. Then, looking at the cons, make a list of things you could do to improve the situation as well as another list of what your spouse could improve on. You want to make sure the responsibility is shared relatively equally and written as truthfully and objectively as possible to keep from pushing the blame solely on one person. Using that list, you can then discuss it with your spouse and even have them complete the same exercise. Afterward, you can both discuss the issues you wrote down and try to work on them together, as a team.

Do you have children together?

This question is probably the most important. Divorce is stressful enough as it is. With children involved, it can become even more stressful because of the toll you know it can take on your kids. On the other hand, you know it could be just as harmful, if not more, to keep the situation as it is. So now, it’s time to figure out which option is best for everyone involved. Is it really worth putting your kids through a divorce? Or will staying together only make things worse for them? With children, you and your spouse will always be in each other’s lives, but spending that life together in the same house versus apart may be the difference in how well it all plays out.

Does your spouse know your concerns about the relationship?

If your spouse already knows your concerns, has there been any progression? Is it possible that, with time, circumstances could improve? If so, what steps can you take to move forward? Are there any alternative options you can possibly look into?

If your spouse doesn’t know your concerns, however, the best first step is expressing those concerns to your spouse to make sure they are aware of the situation. Without communication, you can end up growing resentment toward your spouse. Over time, this can cause your spouse to develop feelings of resentment in return. This resentment can then form into grudge-holding, constant arguing, and passive aggression. Sometimes, it can become so deep-rooted that you no longer know what’s causing your anger, and the concept of healing can seem close to impossible.

If you find yourself unable to communicate your concerns because it hasn’t been a part of your routine in the past, it may be time to start now. Even if you feel your issues are impossible to fix at this point, there’s never a bad time to start. However, if it doesn’t seem to be working after a couple of months of implementation or you still find yourselves back into old habits, your next route is going to be therapy. If you missed the part in the “Will you truly be better off without your partner?” section above, head back and see if you might be willing to give it a try, even if you have already.

Can you handle the financial strain a divorce can cause?

Divorce can be expensive, even in the least complicated and time-consuming cases. The reality is, it takes time and money to get a divorce. There’s a fee to file for divorce, fees to pay lawyers to handle your case–both in and out of the court, if it comes to that–as well as potential alimony (which is financial support, ordered by the court, that you pay your spouse after the divorce is granted). So just be sure to think about that before fully diving into the divorce process. If you cannot afford it, you may want to turn to some alternative options, such as separation or therapy, until you can make it happen.

Are you prepared for what will come physically, emotionally, and financially after the divorce?

This will include the daily components of living without a partner–picking up the slack on things they usually took care of (or that you usually split between the two of you), the financials of living alone or taking care of your children more independently, and the loneliness of no longer having a companion in the house. Not to mention, the regret that may come later on. There are so many things to think about that not only involve the divorce process itself but also the aftermath. Be sure to think through every step before making a decision.

 

You should feel absolutely certain about your divorce–for so many different reasons. We are here to help you achieve that level of certainty. If you would like to speak with someone about your options, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact Christine Howard and her team at (864) 282-8575 or info@christinehoward.com.

 

Sources:

Berger, Moriel. “Causes of Divorce: 13 of the Most Common Reasons.” Wordmark-Copyright, 25 Aug. 2021, https://www.itsovereasy.com/insights/causes-of-divorce. 

Copage, Eric V. “11 Questions to Ask before Getting a Divorce.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 May 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/18/fashion/weddings/11-questions-to-ask-before-getting-a-divorce.html. 

E.A. Gjelten, Legal Editor. “What Causes Divorce? 8 Common Reasons Marriages End.” divorcenet.com, Nolo, 22 Sept. 2021, https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/common-reasons-marriages-end.html. 

Marni Feuerman, LCSW. “Questions You Must Ask Yourself before You Leave Your Marriage.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 21 Sept. 2020, https://www.verywellmind.com/questions-before-you-leave-your-marriage-2302139. 

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

You’ve already decided and agreed upon divorce. But what comes next is where things can get messy. This is when you have to start making decisions about who gets what. You may have to make sacrifices and compromises about certain things, which can be difficult for both parties involved. That’s where we come in.

One of our core values is “divorce with dignity” because we know just how easy it is for divorce to bring out the worst in people. But we know you don’t want that. We know you don’t want to lose your dignity in the battle. To avoid the worst of it, you may be able to look to an uncontested divorce for help.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

Uncontested divorces allow you to settle discrepancies with your spouse outside of the court. They make things easier and more cost-efficient for both of you and allow a more peaceful process to occur. You and your spouse can settle your issues together in a mutually acceptable agreement–either with or without lawyers–which is then reviewed by a judge and either approved or denied. Since there’s usually something that one or both of the spouses cannot settle on, this kind of divorce is quite rare.

What are the Other Types of Divorce?

There are really only two main types of divorce: contested and uncontested. The situation at hand will determine which type is more appropriate for you.

Contested Divorces

In contested divorces, spouses are unable to settle or come to an agreement upon one or more issues in their divorce. These issues might involve the reason or desire for divorce, a custody battle, division of assets, etc. If the situation evolves to a contested divorce, the couple will likely be forced to go to court. This may not be the ideal situation, but in some cases, this may be the only attainable or practical option. If one spouse is unwilling to cooperate/refuses to sign, if abuse is involved, or even if the couple simply cannot get along, you may be looking at a long process that will entail a court date.

Additionally, there are two ways to actually file for divorce, which may affect which type is right for you. One way to file is through at-fault grounds and the other is by declaring no fault. In an at-fault case, you are claiming that the other party is at fault for the divorce. In a no-fault case, you are declaring that neither of you are at fault. Both ways of filing can be used in either type of divorce. So there are at-fault contested divorces as well as at-fault uncontested divorces in the same sense that there are no-fault contested divorces as well as no-fault uncontested divorces. As confusing as it may be, here are the ways to file at their most basic level:

At-fault Divorces

At-fault divorces require proof of one of the following grounds for the divorce to be granted:

  • Adultery
  • Physical cruelty*
  • Habitual drunkenness or narcotics abuse
  • Desertion

*emotional, mental, and verbal abuse are not grounds for divorce in the state of South Carolina

Since this course of divorce requires proof, it can take a while for 1. Acquisition of proof by either spouse, 2. The proof to be reviewed, and 3. Approval by a judge for the divorce to be granted. As a result of the long time frame and need for court involvement, this option will cost a lot more than no-fault divorces.

No-fault Divorces

Another way to file is through no-fault divorce, in which case neither party is blamed for the divorce. A no-fault divorce will require both spouses to live apart for at least a year before the divorce can be granted. With this option, you can avoid the blame game, and the process will run much smoother than an at-fault divorce.

Pros of an Uncontested Divorce

One of the pros of uncontested divorces is that they’re more cost-effective than contested divorces. They can allow you to avoid a court date, where you would be forced to go in front of a judge and jury to present your case and pay for a lawyer to represent you–both in and out of the courtroom. The lawyer would have to spend more time preparing, and you would have to pay more as a result.

On that same note, it is also less stressful than a contested divorce–not only for cost reasons but also for having better control over the situation. In an ideal case, you and your spouse will be able to settle disputes yourself, with or without lawyers, to get what you want more easily. You will both be making the decisions yourself rather than putting that job in the hands of a judge. This does not mean that you will get exactly what you want, but the outcome will likely be more favorable, knowing you both made the decisions and compromises on your own terms.

With less stress and drama comes less tension in your relationship as well, which is especially ideal for couples with children. In addition, uncontested divorces are less time-consuming, which can also contribute to a better relationship, both with your spouse and children.

Cons of an Uncontested Divorce

Some negatives to uncontested divorces are that they can still be overwhelming, uncomfortable, intimidating, or confusing, especially if you and your spouse attempt to navigate the divorce on your own. If this is the case, finding an attorney to help you work out any discrepancies or confusion would be helpful. Side note: One attorney cannot work with both of you; both parties would need to find their own lawyer.

When is Uncontested Divorce the Right Option?

  • When spouses have children and want to keep the divorce as drama-free as possible for them
  • When both spouses still get along, or can at least tolerate one another until the process is complete
  • When both spouses want a peaceful, quiet, and speedy divorce
  • When a couple has already divided all of their assets or have a detailed plan in place

When is Uncontested Divorce not the Right Option?

  • When abuse is involved
  • When spouses do not get along. If one or both parties cannot communicate in a civil manner, then nothing will get settled.
  • When one spouse does not want a divorce and refuses to sign

Figuring out which type of divorce is right for you can be challenging. If you or anyone you know are trying to get a divorce and would like to learn more about your options, contact Christine Howard at (864) 282-8575 or info@christinehoward.com. You can finally get your questions answered and learn how to make the best of your circumstances.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce: What is the Difference?

Legal Separation vs. Divorce: What is the Difference?

When couples are going through a divorce, they might not know the correct path to take. There are several terms that can be used during the divorce process. For instance, many attorneys will use the term “legal separation”. Some couples might think that this is just a fancy word for divorce. It is not. A legal separation and a divorce are two different processes. While they have some similarities, there are more differences between legal separation and divorce.

What is Legal Separation?

Legal separation is a court order that lays out the rights of the couple while they are separated. In this process the couple is living apart, but they are still married. In a divorce the couple is no longer married. Legal separations are not very common but they can be useful. Couples can opt to legally separate while they are going through any issues that might be affecting the marriage.

Similarities to Divorce

There are not many similarities to divorce but there are a few major areas that are the same in both processes. These include child custody and alimony payments, visitation rights, and property distribution. Handling all of these areas properly is important in both legal separation and divorce. When couples separate for any reason, even if it is temporary, they still have to make sure their children and any assets are taken care of during the separation. Working with attorneys and the courts for separation will ensure that division of custody and property is taken care of in the best way possible.

Differences Between the Two

There are many more differences between legal separation and divorce. The first being healthcare and other benefits. Healthcare when legally separated can still be kept by the couple. This is because the couple is still married. By not divorcing, if one spouse has a medical emergency while separated they have access to the same care that they had before. When divorced, each spouse would be responsible for finding their own forms of healthcare.

The next thing that is – obviously – different is marital status. When couples are legally separated they are still married. When they get divorced, the marriage is over. Another factor that is different is decision-making. When couples are married, then each spouse is usually the prime decision-maker for the other in the event of a medical problem. After divorcing, each spouse will need to find someone else to be their decision maker.

Debt is also affected in both processes. In legal separation the debt still remains for both parties. Since the couple is still married, the are still responsible for paying back loans together. When they divorce, the debt is divided between the two according to who can more easily repay. Finally, couples can more easily reconcile with each other in legal separation. Since the courts have not undone the marriage then couples have every opportunity to get back together. When a divorce is final, couples are officially single. There is no option to end the separation and return to the marriage. The only solution would be to remarry each other.

Seeking Help for Your Divorce

Legal separation and divorce are not processes couples should readily jump into. They require careful thought and advisement from the proper authorities. If you or someone you know is thinking about entering either one, contact Christine Howard today. Christine or one of her team members would be glad to talk to you and answer any questions that you may have. Christine can be reached at info@christinehoward.com or by phone at (864) 282-8575.

Referenced from “Legal Separation vs. Divorce” by FindLaw’s Team of Legal Writers and Editors.