Like many other states, Tennessee has a formal separate process through which residents of Jackson can pursue a legal separation instead of a divorce.
Following a legal separation, the couple will remain legally married even if they live in separate homes. Thus, they are not free to re-marry under Tennessee law.
In all other respects, legal separation is much like a divorce. A judge can make orders concerning custody, visitation, property division, child support and spousal maintenance, which may also be called alimony.
Legal separations can be granted for a number of reasons, including what the law calls irreconcilable differences. In other words, neither side has to be at fault before the court can grant a legal separation.
There are limits to a legal separation
On a practical level, legal separation can prove to be just as contentious, and costly, as a divorce.
Moreover, either spouse is free to ask for, and receive, a divorce instead of a legal separation. This means that if one spouse asks for a legal separation, but the other one wants a divorce, then the court is likely to grant a divorce.
People consider legal separation for a number of reasons
Still, people ask for legal separations for a number of reasons. In some cases, a person’s religious faith or moral values may play a part in the decision to ask for a legal separation.
In other cases, a person may just not feel like he is emotionally ready to ask for a divorce but does want to live a separate life from the person’s spouse. There are sometimes financial or legal advantages to asking for a legal separation as well.
Someone who is interested in a legal separation should consider discussing the option with an experienced family law attorney.