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Why Would Anyone Consider A Legal Separation Over Divorce?

Sometimes, divorce isn’t the best option for your situation. For couples that are interested in taking a break without breaking the bonds of matrimony entirely, a legal separation might be in order.

What’s exactly is a legal separation?

A legal separation is created by a court document which affirms that you and your spouse are living independent lives, even though you are still married. Sometimes people will refer to these as “trial separations,” because couples often use them to gain a little clarity and space in order to work on their personal issues while they see if they still want to remain married.

What else does a legal separation cover?

Typically, a legal separation will address such issues as spousal support, child support, custody and visitation. It also helps a couple legally separate their income, assets and debts. This artificial divide can serve as a defining point after which each person’s newly acquired assets or debts are solely their own — which makes it easier later if you do decide to divorce for the court to determine what belongs to each of you.

What are some of the other advantages of a legal separation over a divorce?

Some couples can’t get a divorce because their religion either forbids it entirely or allows it under only very narrow circumstances. A legal separation is often viewed as an acceptable alternative.

Legal separation also can allow you to retain some of the benefits of marriage:

  • If you have a serious health condition or disability, you may be able to remain on your spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

  • You and your spouse can still file taxes jointly, which may benefit you both financially.

  • You may gain entitlement to things like Social Security or military spousal benefits by remaining married longer.

  • You may also retain certain inheritance rights if your spouse dies, which could be important.

Legal separation, like divorce, isn’t right for everyone. For more questions and answers about legal separations, including any foreseeable problems, talk to an attorney today.

Source: FindLaw, “Legal Separation vs. Divorce,” accessed March 24, 2017

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