What’s the Difference Between Divorce and Separate Maintenance in Georgia?

October 4, 2020

Couples who are experiencing difficulties in their marriage don’t always want to get a divorce. For varying reasons, some want to live separate lives without taking this step. If you’re considering parting ways with your spouse, you should know the difference between separate maintenance and divorce.

Divorce brings the marriage to an end and allows both individuals to remarry. It also allows the parties to seek spousal support, property division, child custody, and child support. Separate maintenance doesn’t officially end the marriage. However, it can be helpful for couples who want to live apart while maintaining certain benefits associated with the marriage. You may be more familiar with the term “legal separation” which is used in other states and the concepts are similar.

Of course, two parties who no longer want to engage in marital relations can lead separate lives without getting Georgia divorce attorneys and the courts involved. However, it is usually in the couple’s best interest to have a formal legal arrangement in which they agree on things like spousal support child custody, and child support. If neither party has any significant assets, there are no minor children involved, and neither party is seeking support from the other, an informal separation may be appropriate. The individuals would simply go their separate ways without any involvement from the legal system.

Why Some Couples Opt Not to Get Divorced

Very often, a marital union offers tax benefits, social security benefits, military benefits, and health insurance that one individual would lose if they got divorced. Also, some spouses would rather continue to maintain one household even though they live in separate quarters. This can help them to maintain their lifestyle even though they are no longer with their husband or wife. However, neither individual would be able to get remarried since the marriage would still exist in the eyes of the law.

Not all couples avoid divorce for financial reasons, however. For example, sometimes, religion is at the core of the decision. One or both spouses may be members of religions that discourage divorce. Separating allows each party to chart their own path without going against their beliefs or the tenets of their religion. If you’re not sure what’s best for you, divorce lawyers in Albany, GA can help you to make the right decision.

Accessing Alimony and Child Support

As with divorce, the courts can award alimony and child support as part of the separate maintenance agreement. However, you and your spouse can also come to an agreement about how you and your children will be supported. Some couples get along well and even though they don’t want to be together anymore, they can come to an amicable arrangement. If this isn’t possible, you can ask the court for support and a judge will make a decision.

Accessing Child Support

If the parents will no longer be living in the same household, you will have to decide on custody arrangements. It’s best if you can decide this on your own without having to ask the court to issue a judgment. It is likely to be less stressful for all the parties involved. However, the courts are authorized to award custody in separate maintenance actions, just as they can in a divorce.

Property Division in a Legal Separation

Unlike what obtains with support and custody, the courts in Georgia can’t authorize the division of marital property if you’re only separating. You can only file a claim for the division of marital property during divorce proceedings.

Do I Need to Be Separated to File for Divorce?

In some states, couples must live apart for some time if they want to get a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce is one in which neither party accuses the other of wrongdoing. They simply cite irreconcilable differences as the reason for the breakdown of the marriage and state that there is no hope for reconciliation. After 30 days, the spouse can serve the divorce papers on the other.

Contact Joe Durham Jr. P.C. for Sound Advice

You need to do what’s best for you and your family. Making the decision to end a relationship is often difficult and it can be hard to discuss personal matters with a stranger. However, you’ll find professional, compassionate, discreet Albany, GA divorce lawyers at Joe Durham Jr. P.C. We’ll listen to you, answer your questions, and provide you with expert guidance. Call us today to set up a consultation.