A quiet divorce can mean several different things. Like quiet quitting a job, a quiet divorce can describe parties who are going through the motions of being married. They are exerting the bare minimum effort to maintain their marriage but are living separate lives. However, a quiet divorce can also refer to couples who seek privacy in ending their marriage. In these days of people publicly oversharing personal information, some spouses want to follow a different path. Either way, it’s important to understand how a quiet divorce may affect a party’s rights and obligations.
Do You Want to Be Married, Separate or Divorce?
When couples are having chronic marital problems or if they just drift apart over time, they may consider divorce. It’s not an easy decision especially if you have been married a long time. Before you take any steps, it’s usually a good idea to talk with a marriage counselor or therapist. Maybe you even want to take some time apart and either you or your spouse move out of the home. The point is to figure out whether saving your marriage is possible or desirable.
During this period, some couples essentially start a quiet divorce. They don’t want to be married but they aren’t ready for divorce. Marriage provides certain legal, financial and/or emotional benefits that one or both spouses may not want to give up. Instead, they decide to remain married in name only and may even decide to live in separate households. If that’s the case, it is advisable to talk with an attorney about drafting an agreement that addresses financial issues and child custody and parenting time if you have children.
What Are Your Rights and Obligations in a Quiet Divorce?
As long as you are legally married, you and your spouse still have legal and financial responsibilities towards each other. Marriage is a legal and economic partnership and, until you finalize a divorce, there is a presumption that you are responsible for each other even if you have not lived together for an extended period.
You can rebut this presumption but you have to go to court to litigate the issue. This may come up if you decide to divorce after living apart for a while. One of you may argue that any assets acquired after you started living separately should be separate property not subject to equitable distribution or that one party shouldn’t be entitled to spousal support because he or she has been self-supporting during the separation. Even without a formal separation agreement, a court may look at these factors in dividing assets or awarding support in a divorce case. Courts look at what is fair under the circumstances and that includes how much contact the spouses had during the separation. However, a court will not want to impoverish a spouse by denying assets or support. Living separately is just one factor to be weighed.
If you are going to live apart, it is recommended that you negotiate and execute a formal separation agreement. The agreement would address equitable distribution of property, spousal support, child support, child custody, and parenting time. Legal separation has a few advantages over divorce, including the ability to maintain health insurance and other benefits in some cases. However, there are also extra costs and other considerations you should discuss with an attorney.
How Can You Keep Your Divorce Quiet?
If you have decided to divorce, you can engage in another type of quiet divorce. An uncontested divorce is a “quiet” divorce in the sense that the parties aren’t engaging in public battles. Everyone hears about nasty divorces, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If spouses are willing to put aside their intense emotions, they can negotiate the terms of their divorce in privacy with an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse resolve your divorce issues with the help of your respective attorneys or mediate the disputes with a mediator. Your settlement agreement is filed with the court where a judge reviews it and signs the divorce judgment.
While a judgment of divorce is a matter of public record, the only thing that people can determine is that a divorce action was filed and disposed of on a certain date. The details of the settlement aren’t available unless the parties share them. That tends to limit gossip and intrusions into a couple’s private affairs. Overall, uncontested divorces are faster and less costly than litigation.
Regardless of what kind of quiet divorce you may be considering, it is essential to consult an attorney. Negotiating separation or divorce can be complicated and living apart without an agreement can be detrimental to your future rights. Contact us today to discuss your situation and learn how we can help you find the right solution for your marriage.