Sometimes, relationships come to a point where you and your spouse no longer wish to stay together. For many people, divorce is the first option that comes to mind. But this is just one possibility and it does not perfectly solve every problem in every situation.
Instead, you may wonder: do you have legal alternatives to divorce? Do you have options that can allow you to separate without going through the divorce process?
Some states do allow you to go through alternative processes instead of going through a divorce if you want to split. Separate maintenance and annulment are both possible options to explore, but they often only apply to a very small minority of cases.
For example, Cornell discusses separate maintenance payments alongside alimony. Separation maintenance – or legal separation – will often apply in situations where personal, familial or religious beliefs generally frown upon divorce. This allows you to remain legally married for personal or even business reasons, and is often utilized by public figures and celebrities as well to “keep up appearances”.
In some cases, you must disclose grounds for requesting legal separation. If allowed and you opt for this, a court will then determine matters like spousal support, child custody and property division in the same way they do for divorce cases. The major difference is remaining married on paper.
Annulment is often available only if you have sufficient evidence to prove the marriage was unlawful or someone else coerced you into it. Bigamy or underage spouses can fit into this category, but many other couples will not. Still, you may wish to contact an attorney to discuss all potential options available.