Couple during legal separation in Tennessee

Legal Separation

Nashville Legal Separation Lawyers

Maybe your marriage has hit a rough patch. However, just because you and your spouse are having difficulties doesn’t mean you want to go through with a divorce just yet. You’re not ready to call it quits but just want to spend some time apart. Maybe then you can sort out whether you want to stay together or not. If this sounds familiar, you may be better off talking to lawyers about legal separation rather than divorce.

For decades, the Nashville legal separation lawyers at MHPS have been helping couples come to an agreement on separation. With extensive knowledge in family law, we can guide you through the process, negotiate child custody and support, and file all the necessary paperwork.

Couple meet with legal separation attorney

Couple planning a separation

How Legal Separation Differs From Divorce

What many couples don’t realize is legal separation is not a quick or easy divorce. It requires the same court proceedings. Like a divorce, a legal separation can be a complete division between the two parties. The court divides assets, property, and debt between the spouses, awards spousal support, and arranges child support and custody. It can be just as expensive as a divorce. But the difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that you are still married in the eyes of the law. This is true even if a spouse becomes disabled or dies.

Even in a legal separation, the couple can still cohabitate and continue to be recognized as a married couple. Whereas in a divorce, the separation is final. The couple will need to remarry if they choose to get back together after divorce.

Why Separate Instead of Divorce?

While every couple is different, some can benefit more from a legal separation than a divorce. Some advantages to separating as opposed to divorcing include:

  • Health Insurance – Most plans do not allow divorced couples to continue coverage for former spouses. So in cases where a family cannot afford to have more than one insurance plan, it may be wiser to separate than to get a divorce.
  • Retirement Benefits – Depending on employment history, one spouse may not have retirement benefits available to them. A non-working spouse can claim under his or her spouse’s if the marriage lasts at least 10 years. If you’re close to the 10-year mark, you may want to separate rather than divorce until you reach it.
  • Religious Beliefs – Some religions either frown upon or don’t recognize divorce. A legal separation allows those couples to live apart without violating their religious beliefs.
  • Grounds for Divorce – In Tennessee, you must have grounds for your divorce. One of those grounds is separation from your spouse for two or more years. This is only if the couple does not have minor children together. In addition, an absolute divorce can be granted if one of the spouses files a petition appending the separation agreement.

Couple has consultation with legal separation lawyer


Navigating estate planning can be difficult. It’s hard to know what documents you need, which you don’t, and how to create them to be valid. Don’t do it alone. Check out these frequently asked questions about trusts in Tennessee.

In 2016, Tennessee removed the state inheritance tax. However, there are other federal estate taxes that families need to be aware of when finalizing their estate plans.

community property trust is one such way to avoid such taxation issues.

To create a trust, you need to first decide what type of trust you want to create and who your successor will be. You’ll also want to determine beneficiaries. From there, you will need to work with an estate planning attorney to write the document and have it signed in front of a notary.

There is no one size fits all. The type of trust which will work best for you will largely depend on the size of your estate and the needs of your beneficiaries.

The main purpose of a trust is to manage someone’s assets who is living or deceased to avoid taxes and probate. Trusts can protect assets from creditors as well as set inheritance terms for your beneficiaries.

There are four main types. They are:

  • Revocable Trusts – You are able to control the trust in its entirety.
  • Irrevocable Trusts – These trusts cannot be changed once you pass away and must be followed exactly.
  • Family Trusts – Designed to transfer an estate of high value to a living spouse without tax fees.
  • Special Needs Trusts – These trusts allow a special needs family member to continue receiving government benefits even if they have an alternative source of income like an inheritance.

You can change some trusts, known as Revocable Trusts, put you in control of how you want the trust to work, as well as who gets what.

However, you cannot change Irrevocable Trusts so you need to plan accordingly.

Since a trust and a will are not the same things, neither is better than the other. However, when used together, they become a powerful estate planning tool. Keep in mind, everyone needs a will, but not everyone needs a trust.

Estate planning can be complicated. If you have questions about trusts in the state of Tennessee, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Estate planning is what we do.

How Our Nashville Legal Separation Lawyers Can Help

When deciding whether a legal separation is right for you, it is important to know exactly what other options are available. The Nashville legal separation lawyers at MHPS can guide you through the process and help work out the specifics of your separation agreement. If down the road you plan to get a divorce, our attorneys can advise you on the best strategy.

If you live in Nashville, Springfield, or anywhere in Davidson and Williamson Counties and are considering a legal separation, let us help. Contact our legal separation lawyers now to set up an appointment to discuss your needs.