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When living apart from your spouse, legal separation protects you

You think your marriage isn’t working out, but you don’t want to rush right out and get a divorce. You want a trial period first, where you split up and live on your own. You think you might fix the marriage in time and don’t want to be too hasty about breaking it off entirely.

If you want to do this, it may be wise to consider legally separating. In many ways, this is similar to divorce. You can address things like assets, debts, financial obligations and more.

The reason to do this is that it protects you. If you just move out without making it official — something many people do — then you’re technically still married and may be responsible for your spouse’s actions.

For example, perhaps you’re both on the mortgage. You move out and your spouse says he or she will keep paying, but it doesn’t happen. Now with just one income, your spouse can’t make ends meet and starts missing payments.

Lenders may then come after you. You can tell them your spouse shook your hand and swore he or she would pay, but that’s not going to get you very far. A legal separation could have been used to divide assets, taking your name off of joint accounts, so that you wouldn’t be liable. Without it, you still technically are at fault for missing the payments.

This example helps to show just one of the benefits of a legal separation. When thinking about a split, take the time to consider all of your legal options and how you can protect yourself.

Source: Forbes, “Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially?,” Jeff Landers, accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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