Separation FAQs

How do I know when I am legally separated?

Once you no longer live under the same roof as your spouse, you are separated. “Legally” separated typically means you have an agreement evidencing your separation or a Court has ruled that you are “legally” separated. However, you can be separated without a document in place. If you have been separated for more than one year, regardless of whether your separation is “legal”, you may be entitled to a divorce judgment.

How do I file my taxes after we separate?

The parties must agree to file jointly; otherwise, the parties may file “married filing separately”. It is recommended that you consult with your tax advisor before preparing your tax filings.

Can I change the locks on my house if my spouse leaves?

The short answer to this question is yes. Once your spouse leaves your home without the intent to return, you are entitled to change the locks to your “former marital residence”. If your spouse returns and tries to demand entry, he or she may be guilty of what is called “domestic trespass”. However, it is important to remember that your spouse will likely be able to return to obtain his or her personal property, clothes, etc. with the assistance of either the court and/or a third party. It is important to talk to your attorney about your individual circumstances before taking any of these actions.

Can I date if my spouse and I have signed a Legal Separation Agreement but we are not yet divorced?

A Separation Agreement is a legal contract establishing, among other things, that the parties will live separate and apart. Typically, the agreement also sets forth other legal provisions regarding future claims and rights of the parties. It is best to seek legal advice during this stage of the divorce process to make certain that your individual rights and future claims are protected.

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