A lot of clients ask us if they should get a divorce or a legal separation. These are two different processes and there are pros and cons for each process. A divorce completely dissolves the legal marriage of a couple. It is permanent. A divorce will settle issues of property, debt, child custody, child support and parent time. A divorce can take a long time or a minimum of 90 days.
A legal separation (which is called separate maintenance in Utah) does not end your marriage. Couples often seek a legal separation when they intend to live apart but wish to remain legally married. Some couples choose a legal separation for religious or medical insurance reasons. In a legal separation you ask the court to make an order addressing the issues of debt, property division, property division, custody, child support and parent time.
The filing fee is the same for either a legal separation or divorce. A legal separation is not a stepping stone to divorce – it is a different path. You cannot convert a legal separation into a divorce. If you first become legally separated and later want a divorce you have to file new documents with the court for the divorce.
If you want orders from a judge telling the parties what is going to happen with custody, parent time, support, property, debt, etc., during the time between when you file your divorce and when you get your final divorce decree, you need to ask the court for temporary orders.
If you have any questions about legal separation or divorce and what might be useful in your case, please give us a call at (801) 820-7488.