If a marriage is struggling and a couple is considering divorce, there is an intermediate compromise allowed under the law in New Mexico, known as Legal Separation. This is a contract under which a couple agrees to live separately for a time, to determine whether they want to preserve the marriage or get a divorce.
A separation agreement allows a couple to decide on child visitation or parenting issues, payment of a mortgage or other debts, and any other issues necessary while the agreement is in place. If you need a Family Law attorney to assist you with preparing a Legal Separation document in the Santa Fe area, the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer is here to help.
What Are Legal Separation Agreements in Santa Fe?
A Legal Separation means that a couple is still technically married in the eyes of the law, but living separately. There are a wide range of issues that can lead to a couple deciding on a marital separation, but one thing remains common in most separations: The couple is not certain that they want to go through the pain and finality of a divorce.
Separation agreements are complicated, because they lay out the rights and responsibilities of both spouses for the length of their separation. Property, assets and debts are often divided just as if the couple were getting a divorce. Here are just a few of the issues that are commonly agreed upon in a Legal Separation:
- Who pays the mortgage, car payments or other debts each month?
- Who provides medical insurance? Or, does each spouse provide their own?
- Who has primary custody of any children? What are the parameters for child visitation?
- Are there community property rights that need to be addressed? For example, do both spouses still jointly own a home?
Divorce vs. Legal Separation
Sometimes couples need time apart to decide whether they wish to continue the marriage. Certain religious beliefs may prohibit a couple from divorcing, in which case a Legal Separation can be an option for them. Other couples might want to retain certain financial benefits, such as health insurance or social security benefits. It’s important to remember, however, that even if you are legally separated from your spouse and have a separation agreement granted by a court, you are still married.
A Legal Separation does have certain obligations that go along with it. If you are unaware of those obligations and violate them, it could impact you or your spouse if you decide to divorce in the future. If you enter a separation agreement without the help of an attorney to explain all the issues, it could mean that you will lose certain benefits you would be entitled to in a divorce.
A Santa Fe Divorce Lawyer Can Help
The attorneys at the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer in Santa Fe have decades of family law experience. They know the complexities of a Legal Separation agreement and can guide you through the process of petitioning the court. Contact our office at 505-924-1000 to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.