Like some other states, Alaska allows married couples to pursue a legal separation instead of a divorce.
The big difference between legal separation and divorce is that, even after a court issues a Decree of Legal Separation, the couple will remain legally married.
Effectively, a couple must agree that they want a legal separation instead of a divorce. If either party wants to end the marriage, the court will go forward with a divorce.
Also, either party can ask for a divorce later. As a word of caution, though, this does not mean that they will get an automatic do-over of their legal separation case.
In most other respects, the legal separation process works a lot like a divorce. Unless the couple agrees on the terms, the court will divide the couple’s property and will also enter orders about custody, parenting time, child support and spousal support.
There are many reasons why a person might want a legal separation instead of a divorce:
- Many religious and cultural traditions either prohibit or at best frown on divorce.
- Sometimes, there are important financial and business reasons a couple may have for staying legally married.
- The couple may just not be ready, or their children may not be ready, for something as final as a divorce.
- Although this is not always the case, sometimes, a legal separation can protect important medical and other benefits.
A person may need professional representation during a legal separation case
Another important thing to remember about legal separations is that they can be contentious and complicated, just like a divorce.
Even if a couple agrees to stay legally married, that does not mean they must or will agree on a parenting plan or on what is a fair financial arrangement. A person will want to make sure that they understand their rights and know how to defend them.