Legal Separation

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General Legal Separation Information
Legal Separation Question and Answer Section

GENERAL LEGAL SEPARATION INFORMATION

I am thinking about divorcing my spouse, but am not sure if I should. Is there anything else I can do?
Yes. You can file a legal separation from your spouse. You can do this when you don’t want a divorce, but you cannot currently live with your spouse.

What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?
Divorce is when a judge legally ends your marriage. Legal separation doesn’t end the marriage. The court can, however, issue orders like the ones issued in a divorce case concerning property, debts, and children. A legal separation is like a “temporary divorce.” However, the divorce allows you to marry again, whereas legal separation does not.

What if my spouse wants a divorce, but I don’t? Can I get a Legal Separation instead?
Yes and no. If your spouse will agree to try a Legal Separation to see if you can work out your issues, then it may be a good option. However, if your spouse does not agree and still wants a divorce and the court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken (meaning, there is no way for you and your spouse to reconcile) then the court must dissolve the marriage rather than grant a legal separation.

How long does a legal separation last?
A legal separation can last up to one year. After one year you should be ready to decide if you want to get a divorce or get back together with your spouse.
If, after one year, either party moves for dissolution, the decree of legal separation is converted to a divorce decree. All orders of a legal separation end when the legal separation ends.

What do I have to do to get legally separated from my spouse?
You need to file a Petition for Legal Separation. In your petition you will need to tell the judge the reasons why you think you and your spouse cannot currently live together. Either you or your spouse must be a resident of Kentucky for six months before you file the petition, and a resident of the County where you file.

Can I file for legal separation if my spouse has already filed for a divorce?
No. If your spouse has filed for divorce, you will not be able to apply for legal separation.

If I am legally separated, can I still get support for myself and my children from my spouse?
Yes. In fact, you can ask for temporary maintenance, child custody, possession of property, and child support. You can also ask for temporary visitation rights, counseling, a temporary restraining order or a protective order. The court will not automatically grant these orders; you need to request them first.

What is temporary maintenance?
Temporary maintenance is money paid from one spouse to another during the legal separation. It is generally intended to preserve the standard of living of the family.

You mentioned that there was a possibility of counseling. Can you tell me more about that?
You, your spouse, and any of your children can ask a judge to order you to attend counseling so that you can try to improve your marriage. But the judge cannot require you and your family to get counseling together if either you or your spouse is against it, or if there has been any violence in your marriage or life together.

Is there anything else I need to know before I begin to prepare for a legal separation?
Think about getting legal assistance. A separation or divorce action requires a number of forms to be submitted to the court. Make sure all the information you provide is up to date and accurate. Also, you should be aware that the information you give your attorney is confidential, so you don’t have to worry about the kind of information and detail that you provide. The more open and honest you are, the better your attorney can help you.

Do I have to file for a legal separation if I want to separate from my spouse?
No. You can simply move out and live separately. However, if you want court orders on the marital property and debts or about the children, you should file for a legal separation. Also, if you have not filed for divorce or legal separation, you may be liable for some of your spouse’s debts even if you are no longer living with your spouse.

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LEGAL SEPARATION QUESTION AND ANSWER SECTION

I am thinking about divorcing my spouse, but am not sure if I should. Is there anything else I can do?
Yes. You can file a legal separation from your spouse. You can do this when you don’t want a divorce, but you cannot currently live with your spouse.

What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?
Divorce is when a judge legally ends your marriage. Legal separation doesn’t end the marriage. The court can, however, issue orders like the ones issued in a divorce case concerning property, debts, and children. A legal separation is like a “temporary divorce.” However, you cannot remarry after a legal separation. You must have an actual divorce decree before you can remarry.

What do I have to do to get legally separated from my spouse?
You need to file a Petition for Legal Separation. In your petition you will need to tell the judge the reasons why you think you and your spouse cannot currently live together. Either you or your spouse must be a resident of Kentucky for 180 days prior to filing the petition, and one of you must be resident in the county where you file for the legal separation.

Can I file for legal separation if my spouse has already filed for a divorce?
No. If your spouse has filed for divorce, you will not be able to apply for legal separation.

If I am legally separated, can I still get support for myself and my children from my spouse?
Yes. In fact, you can ask for temporary maintenance, child custody, possession of property, and child support. You can also ask for temporary visitation rights, counseling, a temporary restraining order or a protective order. The court will not automatically grant these orders; you need to request them first.

What is temporary maintenance?
Temporary maintenance is money paid from one spouse to another during the legal separation. It is generally intended to preserve the standard of living of the family.

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Reviewed August 2009