Some couples choose to live separately before actually getting divorced. The most common reason for this is to allow the couple to live apart while they decide if they actually want to get divorced. However, there are several financial reasons why a couple may choose a legal separate rather than divorce right away.
- The need to remain married in order to meet the 10-year requirement for social security benefits.
- The ability to continue receiving health insurance benefits under their husband’s plan.
- The potential tax benefits of filing their taxes jointly (see our article on the risks of filing jointly).
- Retaining certain military benefits.
If you decide that you are going to live apart, you should consider a Legal Separation Agreement. A legal separation agreement is a legally binding agreement/contract between you and your husband that resolves issues like the division of assets and debt, alimony/spousal support, child support and visitation.
In some states, a legal separation is a necessary step to file for a divorce. In others, a legal separation is not recognized. It is important to get the advice of a divorce attorney in your state to determine if this is an option for you.
Some people remain separated for months or even years, so it is very important that you protect yourself upfront and have all the necessary issues settled and agreed to in writing. It is difficult to move on with your life without getting issues like who gets what assets and who is responsible for debts resolved. Having the legal separation in place will allow you to move forward with your life.
Being legally separated does not mean that you must ultimately divorce, but it does allow you to get an accurate picture of what life would be like if you do divorce. Also, if you do divorce, the legal separation agreement will be used as the basis for your divorce settlement agreement. Therefore, it is important to bring in a divorce financial advisor, just as you would for a divorce, to ensure that you will have a financially secure future.
About Jeff Landers:
Jeff Landers is the President and Founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, a divorce financial strategy firm which exclusively advises women throughout the United States before, during and after divorce.
Jeff is the author of the new book, Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally – What Women Need To Know About Securing Their Financial Future Before, During, And After Divorce, which provides women going through the crisis of divorce with the tools they need to secure their financial future.
He is donating a portion of all book profits to Bedrock Divorce Fund for Abused Women, Inc.
All articles/blog posts are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice, retain a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, who is not an attorney.