Legal Separation or Divorce

divorce word play

Legal Separation AKA Divorce from Bed and Board

In a divorce there are generally four major categories of things to deal with, namely (1) child issues, (2) equitable distribution issues (assigning assets and debt), (3) spousal support (alimony) issues, and (4) “temporary” issues while the divorce is pending, such as who can live where, who can use the car, who pays the bills.

A legal separation is technically called a divorce from bed. In such a case, the RI courts can only deal with three issues in a divorce. Those issues are (1) child issues, such as custody, possession, child support, etc., (2) alimony, and (3) “temporary issues.”

Know the Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation in Rhode Island

So the first significant difference is that the courts will not assign assets and debt between the parties. If one party wins the lottery, it's still a marital asset. If a party racks up debt, it's still marital debt.

The next major difference, which is obvious, is that with a legal separation, you are still married. The theory is that parties may need room to breathe and figure out if there can be any solutions to their marriage problems. For this reason, the courts will not penalize a legally separated party for things that the court usually punishes if such behavior occurs after the separation. This would include issues surrounding abandonment, affairs, or the like. This limbo lasts until the parties either reconcile or dismiss the separation case. Or if they decide to move on with a complete divorce.

The process for a legal separation is essentially the same as a divorce, with the same timetable as a divorce. However, in the end, you only receive an order granting the divorce from bed and board instead of a final divorce decree.

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