How Much Does It Cost to File for Legal Separation?

You’ve probably heard that famous statistic stating that 2 out of 3 marriages end in divorce. That figure is not entirely accurate for all demographics, regions, and time periods, but it conveys a truthful message. Sometimes, marriages end, whether in divorce, annulment, or legal separation. 

According to recent studies, around 50% of all marriages in the US will inevitably end in divorce. Based on these statistics, perhaps getting a better idea of the legal fees involved in separation isn’t such a bad idea. If you’re considering separating from your spouse, you might be asking yourself – how much does it cost to get a legal separation? Let’s take a look at the process of legal separation and the costs that come with it.

Understanding the Legal Separation Process

Legal separation is one of the three ways you can terminate your marriage, along with annulment and divorce. Unlike annulment and divorce, being separated does not necessarily make you single. The process of legal separation entails splitting your assets and responsibilities in caring for your children from your spouse. At the end of the process, you and your spouse will no longer be living together as a family, and you will not be involved in a romantic relationship with each other, but you will remain officially married. This means that you cannot enter into another marriage while you are legally separated.

Also read:How to Win a Divorce Case: 6 Tactics for Lawyers

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As with any legal process, legal separation is not simple. First, you must submit a request for legal separation in family court. The remainder of the process is quite similar to a divorce. A judge will decide how much time each party will spend with the children, which party gets to keep which assets, and so on. Once the judge has made their decisions, the married couple that is now separated must abide by order of the judge. If you ever choose to get an official divorce, you can make the entire process much easier and quicker by sticking to the same ruling.

Reasons to Choose Legal Separation

You might be wondering, why a married couple would choose to incur the cost of legal separation before filing for divorce. In other words, why would you pay the costs associated with legal separation costs to stay married? Here are some reasons that might convince you to experience legally separate living before ending your relationship completely:

  • Religion: Many religions simply do not allow for divorce. A couple who is very religious may prefer to stay married.
  • Personal values and beliefs: Much like religion, your personal values and beliefs play a big role in considering divorce. Many people believe that once they have promised to stay together, they cannot break that promise.
  • Benefits: There are benefits that come with being married, which may include tax benefits or health insurance.

Average Cost to File for Legal Separation

The cost of legal separation varies depending on the state you live in. Some states, such as Texas, Florida, and Delaware, do not recognize legal separation. Most states, however, do recognize legal separation. To determine the exact total cost as well as your legal rights and the legal separation forms you must complete in your state, you need to do a bit of research.

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But, how much does it cost for a legal separation, roughly? To give you an estimate, the actual filing cost may be as low as $50. If you and your spouse choose to go the easy route and do not hire any lawyers to represent you, you will save a lot on legal fees. As a result, the complete cost will come down to the court fee, which may range from $50 to $300.

Factors affecting the Cost of Legal Separation

Legal separation can cost you a pretty penny, but it can also only cost a few bucks. The final amount will depend on a number of factors. Here are some factors that you should consider when coming up with a budget: 

Location

Your location will affect everything from the court fees to the legal fees. For example, the court fee in New York is around $210. At the same time, hiring a good lawyer in New York may be significantly more expensive than finding one in, say, Arkansas. Ultimately, the higher the cost of living in your state, the more you may end up paying for the separation.

Marital assets

If you and your spouse own a number of assets together, it may be difficult to come to an agreement on your separation. Of course, you can sort it out between you and your spouse without legal representation and come to a conclusion that you will present in court. However, many couples find it difficult to come to a fair agreement on their own, so they need to use the services of a lawyer. Appointing a lawyer to represent you will certainly add a high cost to the final bill, anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, hiring a lawyer may also help you to secure your fair share of your married assets,  which may include alimony

Third-party involvement

Naturally, the more assets you and your spouse share, the more expensive it will be to divide them. This division may require the involvement of third parties, such as property appraisers, accountants, or even psychologists. For instance, you might need a property appraiser to determine the value of each asset you own together and a psychologist to help your children process the separation in a healthy way. Each hired professional will add to the final cost of the separation agreement.

Personal agreement

At the end of the day, the decision to separate should be well thought out rather than an impulsive decision made out of anger. In the case where both parties decide to separate with both parties’ best interests at heart, they can come up with their own terms of separation that they will present in court. If the married couple can agree on everything, the need for a third-party intervention will be minimal. 

Conclusion

Separation agreements are more common than you think. Legally separating from your partner may be the best solution for your marriage and the most cost-effective one too! So, how much does it cost for separation papers? Simply filing for legal separation can cost up to $300. However, depending on your situation, you may end up needing to pay to hire accountants, lawyers, appraisers, and other professionals that will guide you through the process.

Article by James Finsweet

James Finsweet is a Head of legal department in LawBrother Ltd. At Lawrina, James contributes his experience in law practice and shares opinions on law regulations and news.

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