Legal Separation in Pennsylvania
Harrisburg Family Law Attorney – (717) 775-7195
Many states allow married couples to become legally separated and gain this title officially. However, Pennsylvania does not technically recognize legal separation as a relationship status on applicable documents, such as tax filings and other government paperwork. Using a separation agreement, though, can allow a married couple to go through essentially the same process and reach similar outcomes compared to states that do allow legal separation.
Within a separation agreement, you will have to overcome many of the same challenges that a divorcing couple encounters. For this reason and more, it is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a legal professional before getting too far into the process. Contact Scaringi Law and speak to our Harrisburg divorce lawyers today about how to begin. We are a full-service law firm, which means you do not need to go anywhere else for help – we can handle each step from start to finish!
Five Things Your Separation Agreement Should Include
Even though you are not going to be legally separated by official government standards, you should still consider your options carefully. Many couples in Pennsylvania use a separation agreement as a “divorce trial period,” allowing them to see if they can function comfortably with the proposed changes. Some may actually discover that separation is not what they want, and choose to stay married after experiencing firsthand what it would be like if they were divorced. Careful planning is crucial to get the full effectiveness out of a separation agreement.
To make your separation agreement effective and useful, be sure to consider and include:
- Property division: Who needs what pieces of property or assets when separated? Who deserves those pieces instead? Perhaps the most important property to consider is your family home. The person who leaves, even during an unofficial separation, may end up losing their claim to the property if a divorce follows.
- Alimony: In the average divorce, one spouse makes noticeably less money than the other. Alimony or spousal support are used to bridge that income gap and ensure that each spouse maintains a familiar standard of living after the separation or subsequent divorce.
- Child support: Determining how much money is needed each month to raise your children is just as crucial as alimony. Child support agreements can either bring separating couples together as parental instincts kick in, or push them apart if both spouses refuse to cooperate. Be sure to work with our Harrisburg separation lawyers if you have children and need to determine child support.
- Child custody: In your separation agreement, you need to figure out your living space and that of your children. Once again, child custody acts as a prime opportunity to learn if you and your spouse can work well together, even when separated.
- Visitation: Once you decide who will primarily live with your children during your separation, you should also consider how, when, and why the other spouse will be permitted to visit.
Using Separation to Make a Final Decision
Since Pennsylvania does not officially recognize a “legal separation,” it is arguably just a process to see if you want to go through with a divorce or not. If the separation agreement does not sit right with both you and your spouse, you may want to eventually call it off and consider other alternatives, such as marriage counseling. If you are happier once separated, you might want to consider divorcing sooner than later as to avoid tax and legal complications that might arise while technically married.
No matter your decision, our team of Harrisburg family lawyers would be happy to help you reach it. Scaringi Law was founded back in 2005, and we have since gained a strong reputation throughout the state as a caring and compassionate law firm backed by experience. Call (717) 775-7195 or use an online contact form to learn more about our services today.