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Las Vegas couples should consider legal separation

Often, when couples are nearing the possible end of their marriage, they decide to live separately for some time to see whether they would be better off divorced. This is usually referred to as a trial separation, and is done informally with no legal intervention. However, spouses who are still on the fence about divorce may want to make their split formal with a legal separation.

According to a family law attorney quoted in Forbes magazine, a legal separation can help you mitigate financial and legal risk by establishing a binding agreement regarding debt, assets, custody, and other issues that are resolved in a traditional divorce.

If you separate informally without an agreement, you remain liable for your spouse’s debt and he or she maintains some level of control over your finances. This means that you may find yourself on the hook for large credit card or other bills that result from purchases made by your spouse. Further, he or she may spend money from your joint accounts or fail to pay bills on time, significantly harming your credit in the process. Finally, your spouse may drive down the value of your marital assets, for example by failing to maintain the family home or crashing the car.

Because of these potential risks, it may be a good idea to obtain a legal separation while you decide whether or not to divorce. This is especially true when you are living separately from your spouse for months or years. The extra bonus of a legal separation is that your separation agreement can easily become your divorce settlement agreement if you ultimately decide to end your marriage.

Source: Forbes, “Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially?” Jeff Landers, Jan. 10, 2012

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