Oregon is one of the states which has a separate family law process called legal separation.
A legal separation is not the same as a divorce, even though it has a lot in common with it.
On a practical level, whether a judge is divorcing a couple or decreeing a legal separation, he or she will still decide questions about child custody, alimony, property division and other family law matters.
However, after a legal separation, a couple will remain lawfully married. The legal separation may last indefinitely, or it may last for a certain time. Either spouse is free to ask for a divorce instead of a legal separation, even after the legal separation is finalized.
Why would I want to consider a legal separation?
There are some people who ask for legal separation instead of divorce because of their deeply held moral or religious beliefs.
In other cases, a Salem couple may want to divorce but are not able to meet the residency requirements to get one.
In still other cases, parents may just not want to take the step of getting divorced for financial, legal or emotional reasons. However, they still want to live separate lives and know that they need a court order in order to accomplish that goal.
Legal separations are not always simple affairs
Just like divorces, legal separations can be both complicated and contentious. It is not always easy to figure out how to divide property between two people who are going to live separate financial lives, and custody and parenting time can also be difficult.
A person in the Salem area who wants to consider a legal separation should consider discussing this option and an appropriate strategy with an experienced family law attorney.