When an individual files for divorce in Tennessee they are given the option of filing a complaint for legal separation instead. Few choose this option and for good reason. Of course the other party may object to a legal separation and seek an absolute divorce instead. The grounds for legal separation are the same as for an absolute divorce and the Court may order an absolute divorce instead of a legal separation anyway.
Å legal separation does not affect the bonds of matrimony, but the parties will be permitted to cease cohabitation. However, neither party is free to marry another person because the bonds of matrimony are not severed in a legal separation. The Court may still provide for matters such as child custody, visitation, support and property issues during the legal separation if requested by either party or the parties may agree to some arrangement on their own.
If the parties have failed to reconcile after 2 years of being legally separated, either party may use that fact alone to proceed with an absolute divorce. Few, if any lawyers will ever recommend a legal separation over an absolute divorce because it only delays the inevitable in most cases.
However, there may be some instances where a legal separation may be indicated or desired by one party or the other and those reasons should be fully discussed with an attorney before that decision is made.
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