In Connecticut a legal separation is almost the same as a dissolution of marriage. The same papers must be prepared, served, and filed with the court. The case will take the same period of time, and the same issues must be addressed. In other words, at the time the court legally separates you, alimony, custody, child support, property division and other issues will have to be determined. The only significant difference is that if you and your spouse become “legally separated,” you will not be free to marry. Legal separation sometimes makes sense because of religious concerns, for medical insurance purposes, or for social security purposes.
A legally separated spouse is, however, treated the same as a divorced spouse for income tax purposes.
A legal separation may be changed to a dissolution of marriage while the case is pending. It may also be changed at any time after the legal separation is granted if the spouses have not resumed marital relations after the separation. But, the court may review the parties’ finances at that time to see if the financial arrangements between the spouses should change or remain the same.
Sometimes a couple makes a decision to separate without starting a divorce or legal separation. There is no law that forces a married couple to live together. The decision to separate should, however, be made carefully. Who has had possession of the house and children can have great impact on how those issues will be resolved in a later divorce. How much or how little the spouse out of possession is paying to the spouse in possession of the family home, or vice versa, can also be important.
If you or your spouse is thinking of leaving the family home, you should each seek advice from a divorce lawyer. If either of you has left the home, and you have not already consulted with a divorce lawyer, each of you should immediately do so.