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Divorce and Legal Separation

If you're going through a legal separation or divorce, the law probably seems like another tough thing to deal with. In truth, it's the key to a speedy resolution. Each divorce and legal separation is different, but understanding how the process works can help bridge gaps and keep the focus on what's most important.

Laws vary by state, but legal separation is often the first step. Legal separation usually involves filing a Marriage Separation Agreement with the court to outline the terms of your separation. It's a temporary arrangement that protects each spouse and determines basic rights and responsibilities until divorce proceedings are finalized.

After legal separation, divorce is the formal termination of your relationship. Divorce is easiest when you and your spouse can agree on the conditions. Filling out a Divorce Worksheet is a good way to understand everything involved and see whether you're on the same page. If you can agree on the general conditions, most states allow you to enter into a Divorce Settlement Agreement and file for a no-fault divorce. If there are issues that keep you from reaching an agreement, it's a good idea to consider mediation or finding a lawyer.

There are also special steps to take if you don't know where your spouse is.

Following legal separation and divorce, ongoing child custody and credit issues may pop up. To learn more and find state-by-state information, check out our articles on legal separation and divorce.