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The financial risk of a long trial separation

Some couples who are thinking of getting divorced like to have a trial separation first, giving them a chance to live apart without doing anything to make it legally official. This gives them a better sense of what it’s like so they can make a more informed decision.

This can be helpful, but it’s important not to let the trial separation last too long without an official legal separation agreement — even if you don’t get divorced.

Essentially, the legal separation can create an official basis for your new living arrangement. It deals with many of the things that would be addressed in a divorce, such as financial agreements, child custody plans, child support and spousal support, and more.

It’s risky to simply live apart without taking the time to think about these things. Since you’re still technically married, without a legal separation agreement, the things your spouse does can still impact you. This is especially risky with financial moves, as you could be liable for your spouse’s debts.

For example, maybe you both bought a house together, and you’re both named on the paperwork. You moved out to live in an apartment, but your spouse kept the house. If he or she stops paying the mortgage, it can impact your credit score. The same is true for debt on joint credit cards, money owed for car payments, and much more. Creditors could even end up coming after you to get payments for debt your husband or wife created while you were apart, without your knowledge.

So, if you’re thinking of living apart, don’t do anything rash. Make sure you take the time to really protect yourself in Las Vegas.

Source: Forbes, “Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially?,” Jeff Landers, accessed July 28, 2016

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