Legal Separation as an Alternative to Divorce

A legal separation in Oregon is a process that involves essentially all of the same issues as divorce — dividing property, determining custody, paying child or spousal support, but the parties are still legally married at the end of the case. So why do some couples choose to separate legally instead of divorce?

Some people are not ready to divorce, but still wish to live apart from his/her spouse. A legal separation allows them time to live apart while also defining the rights and responsibilities for each spouse while living separately. In Oregon, a separation agreement can establish precedence for the divorce, if the couple ultimately decides to divorce.

Other reasons for legal separation instead of divorce include religious beliefs, not meeting the Oregon residency requirements for divorce, the ability to retain medical or other benefits that a divorce would terminate, or to extend the marriage past a certain number of years in order to qualify for certain government benefits, such as social security or a military pension.

Because the effects of legal separation are similar to a divorce, and you have specific rights and obligations while separated, you should consult a qualified divorce or family law attorney who has experience handling legal separations. This attorney will help you decide whether legal separation is a good choice for you.