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If you are not ready for a divorce – a separation might be a better answer.
A separation is not a divorce. When you become separated from your spouse it means that you are no longer living together but are still legally married. There are three types of separation. In most states, only a legal separation will change your legal status. Though all three options can alter your legal rights.
What happens during a trial separation?
If there is a chance of a reconciliation you might want to take a break from the relationship and live apart to give both parties time to sort things out. While you are living apart the same legal rules apply just like when you are married as far as ownership of property. In other words – in New Mexico – property or large ticket items bought or money earned will still be considered jointly owned.
It is a good idea to meet with a family lawyer or mediator to create a written agreement concerning issues that will arise during the separation such as: will you share a joint bank account and/or credit cards. Will your budget change? Who will stay in the family home? If you have children, who will they stay with? How will you divide time between them?
What happens during a permanent separation?
A permanent separation is when you are no longer living with your spouse and there is no intention of a reconciliation. In New Mexico the court divides only the community property that was acquired at the time of the marriage. Assets and debts acquired during the separation belong only to the spouse who obtained them. Talk to a family lawyer about drawing up a legal document with a definitive date of the separation to insure there are no arguments about assets, properties or debt when it comes time for division of property.
What happens during a legal separation?
In New Mexico, a spouse that wants a legal separation must go through the same legal process as a divorce. This includes addressing the same legal issues that arise in a divorce, filing legal paperwork, and if the couple can’t agree on issues appearing before a judge. Being legally separated is a different legal status from being divorced or married—you’re no longer married, but you’re not divorced either, and you can’t remarry. But the court’s order granting the legal separation includes orders about property division, alimony, and child custody and support, just as a divorce would.