Legal Separation in Pennsylvania
Legally separating from your spouse can be an emotional process that should be handled by a Pittsburgh separation lawyer to ensure your best interests are considered.
Separating from your spouse can be an emotional and difficult process. If you are considering a legal separation in Pennsylvania, you may want to contact a separation lawyer to handle your agreement.
Many marriages go through difficult periods. When times are tough, you may feel you need to spend time away from your spouse while deciding what your next steps will be. A legal separation in Pennsylvania can be useful for allowing each spouse time to work on their personal and financial issues. Time spent apart can lead to marital issues being resolved, and many couples that separate often end up getting back together.
If you and your spouse are considering a legal separation in PA, you may have lots of questions. As an experienced Pittsburgh separation lawyer, Anthony Piccirilli understands how complicated this process can be for couples. He can provide guidance and assistance for spouses who want to draft a separation agreement. If you are in need of a separation lawyer, call Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC today at (412) 471-5100 to schedule a free initial consultation.
The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce
When you’re considering legal separation versus divorce, you should know that both allow couples to part ways, but that’s where the similarities end. A divorce legally ends a marriage. If you wish to divorce, you must file a complaint, also known as a petition, with the family court. An uncontested divorce can be over quickly since both spouses agree to the terms, but a contested divorce is a different story. If a spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers or disagrees with the claim that you were separated, you will be required to have a two-year separation to get a divorce in Pennsylvania.
Unlike divorce, legal separation does not end a marriage. Instead, it creates a period where both spouses live apart. It provides an opportunity for each spouse to evaluate the marriage and determine if it can be saved. The separation laws in Pennsylvania are different from other states. If you want to make your separation legal, you do not need to go through family court and file a petition. Instead, you and your spouse will draw up a legal contract that includes all necessary particulars, and you both agree that you will concede to all terms. If you decide to file for divorce at some point, you may be able to add the terms of your legal separation agreement into your divorce decree.
Types of Separation
A trial separation is the mildest form. It involves both spouses choosing to live apart without creating a formal legal agreement. There are no legal documents dictating responsibilities and visitation rights, simply a mutual understanding between both spouses. The court simply sees this period of time as part of the overall marriage. Any items obtained by either spouse during this period are considered marital property, meaning that there may be a division of property if a divorce is sought.
The more common type of marital break is referred to as a legal separation. The term “legal separation” is a bit of a misnomer, because the state of Pennsylvania does not have a law that states that couples must legally separate. However, if you and your spouse plan to spend time apart from each other and from your marriage, you may want to decide important details, such as who will live in the marital home or who stays with the children. If this is the case, you will benefit from entering into a separation agreement, which is a document that determines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during the separation. This agreement is a legally binding document, so both spouses must abide by it.
Separation agreements in PA are very similar to divorce and allow spouses to sort out some issues, such as:
- Child custody and support. If you have children, you can outline custody matters, such as how the child’s day-to-day needs will be attended to and how much will be paid in child support. You should also include a visitation schedule so your child can spend an adequate amount of time with each parent.
- Marital property. A legal separation agreement can also create a temporary division of marital property. If one spouse leaves the family home, they should include an agreed-upon list of which items are being taken with them.
- Alimony. Finally, those seeking to separate with the help of a legal separation agreement can create an alimony arrangement. Generally speaking, a spouse that is the primary earner will likely be required to make monthly payments to the spouse with a lower income.
- Miscellaneous terms. You may be separated, but you still share financial and other obligations. You can dictate who will pay the bills, cover health insurance, and any other factors within your separation agreement.
Requirements for Legal Separation in PA
A separation agreement can be drafted quickly and easily if the couple can agree on terms related to child custody and support, the division of property, and alimony. Regardless of if you can both agree to all terms, you should enlist the help of an experienced separation lawyer to help execute the document. A lawyer will ensure you have included all pertinent details and allow for an overall smooth legal process.
A legal separation agreement in Pennsylvania will only work if both spouses are in agreement and both sign the contract. It would not be legally binding if a spouse was coerced into signing. Additionally, both spouses must adhere to all terms and conditions. If a spouse fails to do so, the other may sue them for breach of contract.
Considering a Legal Separation in Pennsylvania? We are Here to Help.
There is no doubt that going through a legal separation can stir up a lot of emotions and create havoc in your household. If you are a parent, you are likely worried about how the separation will affect your child’s well being. You might also be concerned about the legal processes involved. Legal separations vary depending on certain circumstances, and you may not understand the steps that need to be taken.
You will need help from a Pittsburgh separation lawyer that realizes how hard these situations can be and who has experience dealing with separation and divorce in Pennsylvania. Attorney Anthony Piccirilli can work to help ensure that you and your spouse reach a separation agreement that protects the things most important to you.