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It is Over, Now What?

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Divorce vs. Legal Separation in Nebraska

You have reached the point where you know your marriage is over. You and your spouse have tried, given it your all, and it is now time to begin your new chapter. All that is left to decide is which chapter to turn to: Legal Separation or Divorce. This can be a difficult question for our clients, but here are some basic points to consider, with your attorney, before making a decision.

  1. If you file for and receive a Decree of Legal Separation, you are considered legally separated, but still married. This may sound pretty basic, but it has an impact on other points impacting your decision.
  2. If you file for legal separation, and are still legally married, you cannot remarry unless/until you are divorced. That said, you can still receive in legal separation all the property, custody and financial allowances granted in a divorce. However, you are unable to remarry until you are divorced.
  3. Your decision is a one-way street. You can go from being legally separated to divorced, but you cannot go from being divorced to deciding you now only want to be legally separated. You can amend your legal separation to a divorce while your case is pending. Or you can modify your decree of separation to a dissolution after your separation is concluded. Also, should you want to remain married you can move to dismiss your decree of separation that was previously entered. But, if you are divorced, you must remarry your ex-spouse and enter a new marriage with them.
  4. Legal separation, unlike divorce, does not have a residency requirement in order to file. To file for a divorce in Nebraska either you or your spouse must have been domiciled here for the previous 12 months. Domiciled means you must have physically lived in the state with the intent to make Nebraska your home. On the other hand, there is no such residency requirement to file for a legal separation. It is common for those who have not lived here for the previous 12 months to file initially for separation. Then, once that requirement either spouse can amend their complaint or countercomplaint to a dissolution.

Your marriage is over, and you are ready to turn the page to a new chapter in your life. That new chapter will begin with filing for either a legal separation or divorce. The preceding is certainly not an exhaustive list of the differences between each type of case and their ramifications for you. For further assistance and advice with this and other issues in your case, please contact the experienced team of family law experts at Slowiaczek Albers & Whelan PC, LLO to schedule your initial consultation.

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