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Do I need to legally be divorced?

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“The difference between divorce and legal separation is that a legal separation gives a husband time to hide his money.” Johnny Carson
“You never really know a man until you have divorced him.” Zsa Zsa Gabor
“If marriage means you fell in love, does divorce mean you climbed out?” Unknown

Do you need a legal divorce? Well, it all depends. Obviously, if you’ve never been legally married, there is no reason to divorce, as divorce is the dissolution of a marriage. Divorce laws vary, so you should always consult an attorney in order to determine how you need to go about obtaining a divorce in your state.

Not all marital separation situations require the parties to obtain a legal divorce. In some situations annulment is acceptable to dissolve the marriage. Also, if the parties don’t wish to remarry, a simple legal separation may be all that is necessary. If you do wish to remarry in the future, however, you should obtain a divorce. As the process can be complex, you should make sure that you don’t hold off on obtaining your divorce until you want to remarry as it may take a long time to be completed and you will not be able to remarry until the final papers are filed.

Obviously, divorce can be expensive, which is why some people would choose not to go through the ordeal. However, if you decide not to dissolve your marriage through legal channels, you may find that you have a mess on your hands later. Even when you go through a legal divorce, separation or annulment, things can be tricky. There are not always clear lines demarcating what belongs to whom and how those assets of a marriage should be appropriated. However, the courts will make that determination, and then you will have everything written in a property settlement agreement that must be upheld, as opposed to just making an agreement with an ex-spouse, which can later be broken at will. Although it can be difficult, it is much easier to separate the “stuff” in a relationship when the couple has been married, rather than just living together. This is because the law recognizes marriage, but does not recognize other types of relationships.

Legally divorcing a spouse may make you eligible for maintenance support payments, as well, and you may not be able to enforce that such payments are made to you without a formal divorce settlement. Furthermore, if there are children of the marriage, they may be entitled to child support payments, which may be more difficult to obtain without a finalized divorce.

The bottom line is there are many reasons why a legal divorce is desirable. You should always seek the advice of an attorney to determine if it is necessary in your case, how you should go about obtaining a divorce, what are the benefits to you of a divorce, the cost of the divorce and how long it will take until the divorce is finalized.

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