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How is legal separation different than divorce in Ohio?

Fans of “The View” may have heard the Rosie O’Donnell is leaving the ABC daytime talk show. 

Some commentators believe the decision was influenced by her recent marital separation. However, it’s unclear whether O’Donnell will be seeking a divorce, or simply living apart from her former spouse. O’Donnell’s five children might be a factor in that decision.

This celebrity example illustrates that decisions about divorce can become more complicated when children are involved. In Ohio, another option besides divorce is legal separation.

It’s important to remember that a decree of legal separation may not be the last word. Indeed, a legally separated couple usually has the option of obtaining a divorce decree at a later date. While it is in effect, however, it operates differently than a divorce in some respects. 

Like a divorce, the couple seeking legal separation generally may present the court with any agreements they’ve reached on matters of spousal and child support, property division and marital debt allocation. If an out-of-court agreement cannot be reached, the court may hear testimony in order to determine those issues. 

Unlike a divorce, however, a spouse might be able to remain fully responsible for the other spouse’s financial support and other matters. Said another way, the parties are technically still married in a legal separation, only living apart. The point of filing for a legal separation is to outline each spouse’s duties and responsibilities.

Another reason for choosing legal separation might be insurance or other benefits. However, in the event either spouse wants to remarry, they will need to file for divorce and go through that process.

Source: Huffington Post, “Rosie O'Donnell Is Leaving 'The View' After Split From Wife,” Andrew Hart, Feb. 6, 2015

Source: Ohio Legal Services, “Family Law: Legal Separation, Divorce and Dissolution

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