Tag Archives: Luxenberg & Johnson

What’s in a Name? Legal Separation vs. Divorce


A common misconception when getting a divorce is that separated=divorced. That’s actually not the case. Being separated is, legally, substantially different from being divorced. And once a couple is separated, that does not necessarily mean they are legally separated. Confused? Here’s the breakdown:

  • Divorce” means that the couple is no longer legally married by order from a court. Based on the facts of the marriage, a judge has ruled that the parties are no longer married, so long as the parties have been separated “mutually and voluntarily” for at least 6 months.
  • “Separated” means that the couple is living separately with no other real implications.
  • Legally separated,” based on the DC law, means that the parties to the marriage are no longing living together or engaging in sexual relations. This is usually a step towards getting a divorce.

The main difference between a divorce and a legal separation is the amount of time the parties have been living apart with no cohabitation (cohabitation=sexual relations). For example, in DC a divorce can be granted if the parties have been mutually and voluntarily separated without cohabitation for six months. While a legal separation can be granted under the same grounds, a legal separation doesn’t have the same effect of a divorce. A divorce legally separates two people. Mr. and Mrs. Smith become Mr. Smith and Ms. Jones. Their property and debts are divided, child custody and support is determined if applicable, and a creditor cannot go after the other spouse after a divorce is granted.

Most basically, a physical separation is necessary to be considered legally separated or to be granted a divorce. Each step is part of the process to go from a legal entity as a married unit, to two separate legal persons. Each step has a different criteria, and different impacts on finances and other areas of everyday life. It is important to remember that each step on the divorce continuum is seen differently by the courts, and by the law.

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Myths About Lawyers, Part 1

Most people have many misconceptions about lawyers. Unfortunately, this can hinder the client-lawyer relationship, and make a bad situation even worse. Family law issues are highly emotional, and it is important to have a trustworthy lawyer who can resolve highly contentious problems.

We compiled this list to give future clients a glimpse of what our attorneys actually do here at Luxenberg & Johnson.

1) No one can afford a lawyer in this economy.

This tough economy has forced people to tighten their belts, and most people mistakenly believe they simply can’t afford an attorney right now. In reality, attorneys are affordable even in a bad economy. Family law cases can be difficult, both emotionally and legally. The truth is, many people can’t afford to not have an attorney. Yes, you read that right. It might seem counterintuitive, but often people can save themselves money, not to mention a huge legal headache, by hiring a lawyer at the outset of their legal problem.

If your car needed a new tire, it can be dangerous and ultimately expensive to wait to replace the tire until it blows. Once your tire blows, you run the risk of ruining your rims or even getting into an accident which can lead to problems much more expensive than replacing a tire.

The tire scenario is similar to a family law case. Many people who don’t hire an attorney from the outset see problems develop in their case that later take an attorney a great deal of time to sort out. And time is money. So, the upfront cost of hiring an attorney can ultimately save money in the long run by potentially preventing major disaster in a case.

2) Lawyers are heartless.

This simply isn’t true! Yes, some lawyers can be downright nasty, but just like there are good and bad doctors, and good and bad mechanics, there are good and bad lawyers.

Many lawyers go into practice because they truly care about the issues in their field. Without that foundation of passion and keen interest, it can be tough to stay a lawyer for long without burning out.

The lawyers at Luxenberg & Johnson got into family law because they are passionate about family law issues. Our philosophy is to help our clients through their legal matters with a sense of compassion and professionalism.

3) Once I get a lawyer, I have no say in my own case.

Lawyers make their living helping clients. Lawyers work for the client, not the other way around! Legally, lawyers have to do what their clients tell them to do. The client is in charge. Good lawyers don’t simply charge forward with a case how they think it should go, especially in family law. Every family is different, and every family law issue is different.

Our firm is dedicated to empowering our clients throughout the course of our representation. We advise our clients, but ultimately decisions are made by the clients. We believe client empowerment is best so that once we are finished with the representation, our clients have a strong foundation for the next stage of their lives.

What Family Lawyers Do, Part 1

The family law attorneys at Luxenberg & Johnson, PC have strong expertise in all areas of domestic relations:

  • Divorce negotiations, settlement and litigation
  • Mediation
  • Collaborative law
  • Alimony and spousal support
  • International family cases
  • Child custody and support
  • Best interest of the children
  • Property identification, valuation and distribution
  • Pre-nuptial agreements
  • Agreements while married
  • Separation and settlement agreements
  • Domestic violence and spousal abuse

YOUR FAMILY

We define “FAMILY” in the broadest possible terms to include:

  • Close and extended families
  • Blood relatives
  • Couples in formal marriages, with or without children
  • Couples in civil unions, with or without children
  • Couples in common law marriages, with or without children
  • Couples living together
  • Friends choosing to live together

We help you protect your family and yourself, by providing legal services that focus on your family. This blog is dedicated to empowering our clients, and the general public, when approaching their family law matters. Whether you are getting a divorce, seeking custody of your child, trying to handle domestic violence issues, or any other domestic relations matter, we do what we do for you.