Helping Clients with Legal Separation Throughout Douglas County in Omaha, Nebraska
Divorce is never easy but is sometimes the best choice for everyone involved. While it can change everything from your living situation to your financial stability, it can also be a fresh start both individuals need to move on to healthier, happier lives.
However, sometimes a divorce is not the right option, either because of its permanence or because the couple would prefer to live apart while maintaining their relationship. They may instead opt for a legal separation. A legal separation occurs when a married couple decides to live apart but remain married. This can be a solid option for couples who want to work on their relationship without the finality of divorce or are trying to avoid divorce for religious reasons. In some cases, it can also help preserve certain benefits, like healthcare.
Decisions like these come with several considerations, such as how assets will be divided, who will get custody of the kids, and how taxes will be affected. The best way to ensure you are making the best decisions for your future is to consult an experienced Omaha family law attorney who can help guide you through the process.
At Stange Law Firm, our Omaha separation attorneys have the knowledge and compassion to help you through this tough time to move forward with your life. We understand how important it is for you to have your space during the time to focus on yourself and your relationship. Our job is to ensure that the legal process is as smooth as possible, so you can focus on what matters.
When Might It Be Time to Consider a Legal Separation?
If the thought of legal separation has struck your mind, but you’re not quite sure if it’s the right decision, you are not alone. Because the decision to enter a marriage was initially considered a lifetime commitment, the initial thought of making the decision to legally separate is often fraught with a sense of failure. This doesn’t have to be the case. If you find that your relationship has reached a point where living apart makes the most sense, it may be time to consider a legal separation.
Couples often seek legal separations because:
- They need time to evaluate the marriage: If you and your spouse need some time to decide whether divorce is the right decision, a legal separation can provide that space. It’s a time to pursue individual interests and work on yourself without the added pressure of making decisions about the future of your marriage. It can be challenging to honestly assess your own needs and feelings while cohabitating, so a legal separation can allow you to do some soul-searching.
- They want to maintain health insurance benefits: One of the most significant benefits of being married is that you can be on your spouse’s health insurance plan. If you are divorced, you will no longer be able to be on their plan. This can be a big deal for couples who have children with chronic health conditions or who have one spouse that is pregnant. Having to find and pay for new health insurance can be a deterrent to divorce, so legal separation can be a way to maintain those benefits. It is important to note, however, that many healthcare plans treat legal separation the same as dissolution of marriage. Consult with the details of your plan before proceeding if this is important to you.
- They’re not ready for divorce: Some couples choose legal separation because they’re not prepared to commit fully to a divorce. They may hope that time apart will help them work out their differences, or they may have moral objections to divorce. If you’re not sure if divorce is the right decision, a legal separation can give you some time to figure things out.
- They have religious objections to divorce: For couples who want to maintain the status of being married but live separately, legal separation can be a good option. This is often the case for couples with religious objections to divorce.
- They need to protect their assets: In some cases, couples may choose legal separation as a way to protect their assets. This is often the case when one spouse is facing a significant financial burden, such as high medical bills or gambling debts. By legally separating, couples can shield their assets from being used to pay off the other spouse’s debts.
- You no longer feel like you are compatible: Compatibility is important in any relationship, but it is especially important in a marriage. True compatibility is when two individuals share the same values, goals, and interests. What originally drew you to each other and made you want to spend the rest of your lives together may have since changed. Don’t be ashamed if you no longer feel that sense of compatibility; it’s natural for people to change over time, and that means that what once made you a good match might no longer be there.
- You’re unhappy more often than you’re happy: Feelings of unhappiness are common in marriages that wind up in legal separation. If you find that you are more often unhappy in your marriage than you are happy, it’s time to start considering a legal separation. Unhappy marriages can lead to all sorts of negative consequences, such as resentment, depression, and even physical health problems. If you’re not happy in your marriage, it’s time to do something about it.
- You’re not communicating: Good communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. If you and your spouse are no longer talking, or if you find that the conversations you do have are more negative than positive, it’s a sign that your relationship is in trouble. Lack of communication can lead to feelings of resentment, loneliness, and even anger.
Of course, these are just a few of the more common reasons why you might want to get a legal separation. If you’re considering this option, it’s important to sit down and talk with your spouse about your decision. You should also consider talking to a lawyer to find out more about your legal rights and options.
How to File for Legal Separation in Omaha
If you’ve decided that you want to get a legal separation, you’ll need to file a petition with the court. This document will list your reasons for wanting a legal separation, as well as any other relevant information that can help advocate for your need for this type of arrangement. You’ll also need to serve your spouse with the petition, which can be done by hand-delivering it or sending it via certified mail.
Once your spouse has been served, they’ll have a few weeks to respond. If they agree to the separation, you can proceed with the next steps. If they don’t agree, however, you’ll need to go to court and argue your case before a judge.
Once you have a legal separation, you and your spouse will be legally obligated to live apart. You’ll also need to make arrangements for things like child custody, child support, and division of property. These arrangements can be made through a written agreement or ordered by the court.
Utilizing Alternative Resolutions
Before you take the steps to file for legal separation, it’s worth considering some alternative resolutions. This is a great option for couples who feel like they’re close to agreeing on everything but just need a little extra help.
- One option is mediation, which is when you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party to discuss your situation. A typical session with a mediator starts with both spouses explaining their side of the story. The mediator will then digest what was said, relegate important points to each spouse, and help facilitate a discussion about the divorce. It is a mark of success when couples leave mediation with an agreement with which both parties are happy.
- If you’re not able to come to an agreement during mediation, you can also consider arbitration. This is similar to mediation, but the arbitrator will make a binding decision for your legal separation. For example, if you’re struggling to come to an agreement about the division of assets, the arbitrator will analyze each of your individual situations and make a decision regarding who gets what. The arbitrator does not take sides and will make a call based on what they believe is fair. They will also communicate if a divorce makes more sense for your situation than a legal separation.
- The final option is collaborative law. This is when you and your spouse work with a team of professionals to come to an agreement about the separation. The team typically consists of an attorney for each spouse, a financial specialist, and mental health professional. This is a great option for couples who could use the help from a number of experts to avoid the additional stress.
Regardless of which route you decide to take, it’s important to remember that the goal is to come to an agreement that works for both parties. Legal separation doesn’t have to be a messy and stressful process. With the help of a professional, it can be an opportunity to start fresh and make things work for both of you while avoiding court.
How Is Child Custody and Visitation Determined?
In Nebraska, child custody and visitation is determined by what is in the best interest of the child. This means that the court will consider a number of factors when making a decision about child custody, including:
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The child’s preference (if the child is of appropriate age to express a preference)
- The child’s need for stability and continuity in their life
- Each parent’s capacity to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs
- Each parent’s eagerness to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse
These factors are determined by looking at the evidence presented by both sides. This can include testimony from witnesses, experts, and the child’s parents. The court will also consider any relevant history, such as a history of domestic violence or abuse.
Once the court has considered all evidence, they will make a decision about child custody and visitation. Sometimes, the court may award joint custody, which means that the child will spend time with both parents. Other times, the court may award sole custody to one parent. This means that the child will only live with one parent and the other parent will have visitation rights.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a roadmap document that outlines the custody and visitation schedule for your child. It will also include other important information, such as how decisions will be made about the child’s education, medical care, and extracurricular activities.
The main reason for having a parenting plan is to provide stability and structure for your child. It can also help reduce conflict between the parents by outlining how decisions will be made and how disagreements will be resolved. Sometimes when there is no formal plan in place, parents can end up disagreeing about even small decisions, which can cause unnecessary stress for the child. This is proactively avoided by having a parenting plan in place.
A parenting plan is not required by law, but it is generally a good idea to have one in place. This especially rings true when dealing with two homes, as it can help ensure that both parents are on the same page about how things will work. If you are unable to come to an agreement about the parenting plan on your own, you can ask the court to create one for you.
How Is Child Support Determined?
In Nebraska, child support is calculated using a formula that takes into account the income of both parents, the number of children, and the amount of time each child spends with each parent. The goal of child support is to make sure that the child has enough financial support to meet their needs, regardless of which parent the child is living with.
The first step in calculating child support is to determine each parent’s gross income. This includes all forms of income, such as wages, salaries, tips, commissions, bonuses, and self-employment income. It also includes other forms of income, such as interest, dividends, rent, and alimony. Once each parent’s gross income has been determined, any mandatory deductions will be made. These deductions can include taxes, Social Security, and health insurance.
After the gross income has been determined and the mandatory deductions have been made, each parent will be responsible for a certain percentage of the child’s support based on their income. The percentage is as follows:
- One child – 17% of the noncustodial parent’s income
- Two children – 25% of the noncustodial parent’s income
- Three children – 29% of the noncustodial parent’s income
- Four or more children – 31% of the noncustodial parent’s income
In some cases, the court may deviate from this formula if it is in the best interest of the child. This can happen if one of the parents has a very low income or if special circumstances exist.
Once the child support amount has been determined, the noncustodial parent will be responsible for making payments to the custodial parent. All payments can be made directly through the Nebraska Child Support Payment Center. When the payments are made through the Payment Center, they will be deducted from the noncustodial parent’s paycheck and sent to the custodial parent.
How Can Omaha Divorce Lawyers Help Me?
An Omaha family law divorce lawyer can handle and assist you with all your legal separation needs. This includes:
- Assessing your individual and family needs: You need to know what you want out of your legal separation before you even start the process. A family law attorney will help assess your individual and family needs so that you can determine what is best for everyone involved.
- Filing all the necessary paperwork: After you have decided what you want out of your legal separation, your lawyer will help you file all the necessary paperwork with the court. This includes filing a petition for legal separation, which officially kicks off the process.
- Negotiating with your spouse: This can be the most difficult part of the legal separation process and one of the largest value-adds an attorney can add to your family law matters. They will carefully assess your spouse’s position and craft a negotiation strategy that will help you get what you want.
- Navigating the court system: Hiring an attorney removes all intimidation and guesswork from having to appear in front of a judge or magistrate. They will ensure you are fully prepared for each hearing and help you understand what to expect from the courtroom process.
Contact Stange Law Firm Today
No one gets married to separate. But when it does happen, you need an experienced attorney on your side who can help you through the process. The family law representation at Stange Law Firm has the experience and knowledge you need to protect your rights and interests during this difficult time. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and begin planning your next steps.
Douglas County (Omaha), Nebraska Office (402-509-1801): 9202 W. Dodge Rd., Suite 302, Omaha, Nebraska 68114