Bill would provide an out short of divorce

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Couples in troubled marriages who don't want to take final step of divorce could opt for a legal separation under a bill that passed the House on Wednesday.

Rep. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, said he sponsored the bill to give couples a way to separate their property and financial affairs and establish child custody without going through a divorce.

''For lots of us, divorce is not the most attractive option,'' Dyson said.

However, the ability to establish some legal distance can be important, particularly in a relationship troubled by substance abuse, crime or domestic violence, Dyson said. If one partner is running up bills, the other can be held liable.

Dyson said about 20 states have legal separation laws.

''It allows the principles to disengage their financial affairs and get some degree of protection while they either work on repairing the marriage or work on other issues,'' Dyson said.

The bill passed the House 39-0. It next goes to the Senate.

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