If parties desire to live apart without being divorce and still have in place a court order obligating the parties to act toward one another in a particular fashion, they could file a “separate maintenance action”.
A Separate Maintenance Order does not end a marriage so neither party is free to enter into a new marriage. Furthermore since the parties are still married, a sexual relationship with another person would be adultery.
The Order for Separate Maintenance does however settle the property issues between the parties including the issue of alimony and all matters pertaining to child custody, child support and visitation rights.
In Georgia, separate maintenance action must be filed with the local Superior Court in which the the non-filing spouse resides.
Reasons to Separate Instead of Divorce
There can be good reasons to seek a separation without a Divorce Decree being entered.
- Perhaps it is important or necessary for one party to retain the legal benefits of marriage. A separation order does not disqualify a spouse from coverage under the medical insurance coverage of the other spouse which may be critical given the cost of COBRA coverage and the potential inability to qualify for replacement coverage due to a preexisting condition.
- Reconciliation and privacy: A legal separation will allow both parties to divide legal rights and obligations, while leaving the door open for reconciliation.
- Avoid religious conflicts: If a divorce is not allowed in the couple’s religion or culture, a legal separation will avoid that conflict yet allow the parties to live apart under terms they can negotiate.
- If agreed upon an agreement for Separate Maintainance can be effective immediately. In the case of divorce there is a statutory waiting period before even an uncontested resolution can become effective.
For more information on the separation or divorce process, call Atlanta’s most trusted mediation lawyer Michael J. King at 770-662-0600.