If you are having marital difficulties and you are considering divorce, you might be thinking about other options that can provide you with some of the same benefits as a divorce without requiring you to dissolve your legal relationship. Accordingly, you may be considering a legal separation in Maryland. While Maryland statutory law does not expressly provide for legal separation as some states do, you may be able to reach a legal agreement with your spouse about certain issues that would arise in a divorce case. Or, more likely, you may be able to seek the equivalent of a legal separation in Maryland, which is known as a “limited divorce” under Maryland law.
In a limited divorce, you can be eligible to obtain some of the same forms of relief that are possible in a Maryland divorce, yet you will remain married. A limited divorce does not lawfully end the marriage—you must seek an absolute divorce if you want to lawfully end your marriage. Yet there are many benefits of a legal separation or a limited divorce, and we want to discuss those with you here.
You Can Resolve Child Custody Issues
If you are separating from your spouse, whether or not you believe you will seek an absolute divorce in the future, a legal separation or a limited divorce can allow you to have child custody issues resolved by the court. Why is this important? If you and your spouse are separating but you cannot reach an agreement about how you will share custody of your children in a more informal manner, the court can make a legal decision about how the parents will share child custody. This benefit of a legal separation can be essential for parents who would otherwise be in a contentious or complicated co-parenting situation.
You Can Resolve Financial Support Issues
In a limited divorce case, the party seeking the limited divorce (or legal separation) can ask the court to make a decision about spousal support and child support when financial support is in dispute. The court can order support for a specific period of time, or until the parties are eligible to file for an absolute divorce, at which time the court can issue a final order on spousal support and child support.
Beyond financial support, you may be able to seek a property negotiation with assistance from your attorney, which can help to ease your mind concerning asset protection.
You Can Resolve a Health Insurance Dispute
Many spouses are in a situation where one spouse relies on the other spouse’s health insurance. This is often a reason that spouses decide not to get divorced—so that both spouses can continue to receive uninterrupted healthcare. Yet sometimes, when spouses separate, the spouse who is the primary insurance holder might try to remove the other spouse. The court can handle disputes about health insurance coverage.
Contact a Maryland Divorce Attorney for Assistance
A limited divorce, or legal separation, is not necessary in order to file for an absolute divorce at a later date. However, it can allow the parties to resolve certain significant and urgent issues in dispute that can affect either of the spouses or the children from the marriage. As we noted above, a legal separation can also allow spouses to have the court resolve certain contentious issues while avoiding divorce for personal, financial, or religious reasons. If you have questions about legal separation or divorce, a divorce attorney in Maryland can help. Contact the Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado for assistance.