Legal Separation and Divorce — Is There a Difference?

Legal Separation in Ohio is one of the most misunderstood legal issues people ask about when facing the decision of whether or not to terminate their marriage.  Under Ohio law there are only three ways to terminate a Marriage:  Divorce, Dissolution or Annulment.  Each method comes with its own benefits and disadvantages.  However, a Legal Separation does not fall into this category as it does not legally terminate a marriage.  If you have a Separation you cannot remarry, and there are potentially other issues which involve the filing of your taxes, what happens to assets and liabilities if one of the parties dies or becomes mentally or physically incapacitated.

Legal Separation Defined

A Legal Separation is a court Order where the husband and wife remain married, but live separately.  This is similar to a Divorce in certain ways as issues involving child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division all need to be addressed and finalized in the court Order.  Legal Separation does come with some benefits over a Divorce, as health benefits can still be easily conferred from one party to another, and if the parties think they may reconcile at some point, it is much easier to “un-do” a Legal Separation than a Divorce.  Further, property acquired after the Decree of Legal Separation is typically considered to be individual property.  This means the property is typically not subject to division in any future Divorce or Dissolution action.

However, the major point of differentiation is that Legal Separation does not permit one to remarry, as in the eyes of the law, the two people are still married.  Further, there are potential issues with taxes, as the parties are still technically married.  Property rights may also be difficult, as the law treats married and unmarried people differently when considering property ownership.  The portion with the most potential to cause issues in the future is how debts are treated.  Some debts, even after a legal separation has occurred, may be considered joint.  This means that even if one did not have any part in the creation of a debt and received no benefit from its existence, there is the potential that they may be liable for its repayment.

Contact Us

The Law Office of Anthony W. Greco is committed to providing each and every client with professional, aggressive, and effective representation.  We strive to remain sensitive to our clients’ unique concerns and goals.  With more than 25 years of experience, our firm is equipped to deal with all issues involved in every family law matter including, divorce and child custody matters.  From the complex, high-asset divorce cases, to a simple dissolution, Attorney Greco and his team of talented associates are prepared to aggressively represent their clients from the first day of representation through trial.  Contact our office to set up your initial consultation to discuss your Legal Separation questions.