When a Maryland couple is having trouble in their marriage, they may go through a trial or legal separation before deciding if they want to divorce. While a trial separation is considered by the law to be no different than simply being married, a legal separation is another matter. A legal separation is not as binding or permanent as a divorce, but the matters of child support, property division and spousal maintenance may come up.
When a couple goes through a legal separation, property and debt that are acquired during this time may be classified in a different way than property and debt accrued during the normal course of the marriage. Additionally, maintenance payments may be required to be made by one spouse during the separation, and it is usually determined based on the circumstances of each individual's situation.
Decisions made regarding child support, custody and spousal maintenance often influence whether a couple does decide to get a divorce. If a couple determines they are getting a divorce but have not done so yet, they may be considered to be permanently separated. Except in the cases of debt accrued to support the family, debt and assets obtained during this time do not count as marital property.
There are a number of legal issues that someone considering a divorce will need to consider, sometimes even before they are sure they want to end their marriage. How the law works can have a significant impact on an individual's standard of living as well as access to their children. A family law attorney can explain how these processes work and assist a client with a divorce or separation.
Source: Findlaw, "Legal Separation vs. Divorce", January 05, 2015