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Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation | Vermont

When the spouses’ relationship reaches a dead end, it’s time to talk about what to do next. But they should not burn all their bridges at once.

Couples who believe they can still reconcile may consider legal separation. It could be an indicative test for them, which will show whether they have a chance for a happy married life in the future.

If the spouses are sure that their relationship is over, they can apply for divorce. The judge will divide family assets and property and grant child custody and maintenance, including alimony (if required).

A couple may feel that divorce is the best way to protect their finances and break up. However, in some cases, legal separation can work even better. In addition, it can provide the same benefits as the dissolution of marriage.

When deciding which option is right for you, you should consider the financial and personal benefits. In this article, we take a closer look at divorce and legal separation in Vermont to help you choose.

What Is a Legal Separation?

Legal separation puts the marriage on pause. Usually, spouses move to different houses and begin to live separate lives apart.

However, a legal separation is a formal procedure requiring compliance with specific court rulings. The court order includes clauses on the property division, terminates financial ties between spouses, and establishes childcare. However, there are several nuances in financial matters, which we will discuss later.

To obtain a legal separation, spouses need to undergo the same litigation process as getting a divorce. The petitioner submits a petition with supporting documents and waits for a court decision. As with an uncontested divorce, couples can independently agree on the separation terms.

What’s the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

The main difference between divorce and legal separation is in the marital status of the spouses. Upon divorce, the spouses officially cut off all ties with each other and receive the status of “divorced.” After obtaining a divorce, former partners may remarry.

In a legal separation, the spouses remain legally married and do not have the right to remarry. If one of them wants to remarry, they will need to file for divorce.

Because the divorce process and legal separation are very similar, they can take about the same time and cost.

Reasons to Consider a Legal Separation

Legal separation can be temporary or permanent. It’s often an excellent choice for couples who don’t want to lose their marriage privileges or face religious stigma.

The most common reasons to consider a legal separation instead of divorce include:

  • The spouses are not sure if they want to dissolve the marriage. Then, the couple can sort out their feelings with a formal separation while maintaining financial protection.
  • The couple can not divorce due to religious reasons.
  • Legal separation retains one spouse’s health insurance coverage from the other spouse’s job. It is annulled upon divorce.
  • Legal separation allows spouses to file taxes jointly and receive some tax benefits.
  • One spouse wants to receive Social Security and military benefits from the other spouse’s work and must have been married for at least ten years. Legal separation allows spouses to fulfill this requirement since they are officially married.
  • To provide more stability for minor children while parents can live independently.

Reasons to Choose a Divorce

Despite the many benefits, legal separation is not always the best solution. Sometimes spouses need to choose a divorce. These reasons include:

  • If the spouses do not see any financial benefit for themselves.
  • If one of the spouses or both are planning to remarry.
  • If spouses do not want to remain close relatives and make financial or medical decisions for each other.

It is worth noting that not all states allow legal separation. For example, spouses will need to divorce to financially and legally separate in Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

What Does Legal Separation Mean in Vermont?

Vermont allows married people to end their relationship through divorce or separation. However, if the spouses are not ready for a divorce, they can file for legal separation with the court.

Since the separation and divorce proceedings are nearly identical, the petitioner and respondent should ensure that they fulfill Vermont divorce requirements.

First, both or one of the spouses must meet the residency requirements. Under Vermont law, spouses must reside in the state for at least six months before filing.

When filing for divorce, the spouses also need to point out the grounds for divorce or separation. Vermont allows for both fault and no-fault divorce.

If the petitioner wants to indicate the wrongdoing of the other spouse, they may allege adultery, neglect, intolerable cruelty, imprisonment, abandonment, or mental illness. The petitioner will also need to provide proof of the accusation’s legitimacy.

If the spouses desire to obtain a divorce or legal separation amicably, they can voluntarily separate for at least six months. As a result, reconciliation is not possible.

In addition, Vermont has a three-month waiting period from filing for divorce before the request can be approved. The court calls this the “nisi period.” Couples use this time to serve the other spouse with papers and possibly reconcile.

If the spouses can not agree on legal separation or divorce terms, they can ask the court to decide. The judge may grant the request and finalize the separation after waiting.

How to Prepare Separation or Divorce Papers in Vermont?

The forms for divorce and legal separation are the same. Spouses can prepare the necessary paperwork with the help of a lawyer, online divorce companies, or by the do-it-yourself (DIY) method.

The fastest and most affordable way is an online divorce. Completing divorce forms online allows spouses to select and fill out court-required paperwork in the comfort of their own home.

To use such a service, spouses only need to register on the website and provide the necessary information about their marriage. After that, with the platform’s help, the spouses can generate top-notch forms and submit them to the county clerk within a few days.

Final Words

Only spouses can decide how to end their relationship. There is no right or wrong option, only the most fitting one.

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