Three Reasons Why Some States Force A Legal Separation Prior To A Divorce

In several states, you can hire a divorce attorney and file for a divorce, but you will be forced to wait for the finalization of your divorce. The law in these states requires a minimum of one year legal separation before making the divorce final. The only exception is in cases of domestic violence and rape where one spouse is hurting the other, or hurting the children. Then it takes a few weeks to a few months to finalize the divorce. If you and your spouse are just splitting due to irreconcilable differences, you will have to wait the full year. Here is why some states have this particular law on the books. 

​The Court Recognizes That Some Couples Just Need a Little Time Apart

​People who are together for years tend to get a little fed up with being in the same house and the same bed with the same person. That is not to say that the courts want either of you to "see other people." On the contrary, at this point an extramarital affair is still an affair. What the courts want or are hoping for is that you and your spouse will seek counseling or spend just enough time away from each other to really begin to miss each other again. Couples that have remained married the longest are those that have spent a lot of time apart. 

​The Courts Want Couples to Resolve Things Like Child Custody and Property Distribution

​A lot of times when couples divorce, there are children in the home and a lot of property has been acquired. The court expects that you and your spouse hash out a custody plan that is fair to both parents so that the children can still see both parents. The idea is that if couples are talking about the very important subject of what to do with the children, the couples might not divorce anyway.

As for the distribution of property, there are some states that expect that the marital home be sold and profits split down the middle between spouses. It is very hard on both adults because everyone has to find a new home while the house is being sold. Some couples decide that this forced sale of the home is not something they want to do, and they stay together. 

The Courts Want Financial Records

​While you are living apart for that entire year, you are supposed to keep excellent records of who pays what and how much. The courts want to see that you are both employed, both paying the bills, both taking care of the kids, etc.. The courts also want income tax records and records of assets so that the judge can best decide how to divide property and child custody. You will need to give all of this documentation to your divorce attorney.