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Legal Separation or Divorce?

Before you opt for divorce, you may want to look into the idea of legal separation. There are benefits of this process, which outrank those in associated with divorce.
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    November 30, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Are you considering divorce? Maybe you are not sure, and you are contemplating legal separation. Some couples live separately for a specific period before divorce. The process is often intended as a trial period.

However, did you know that in modern times, couples are choosing to stay separated? These individuals are not interested in divorce at all. This is true even after a couple has mutually agreed that the marriage is unsalvageable. The decision to stay separated is frequently linked to financial benefits; however, there are other reasons why you might prefer separation over divorce.

What is legal separation?

Legal separation is a binding agreement between you and your spouse, which resolves issues such as alimony/spousal support, the division of assets and debt, child support and visitation. This agreement is filed with the court and is legally valid.

If you choose to live apart from your spouse without a formal written separation agreement, you may be at risk. For example, you could remain liable for your spouse's debts and legal issues because your marriage has not been legally terminated. A written separation agreement addresses certain issues and protects you from specific liabilities as you live apart.

The agreement should consider matters such as joint credit cards, division of assets, debts and other issues. If you ultimately decide to divorce, this contract can transform into your divorce agreement.

Benefits of legal separation

There are number of reasons why separation may be a superior option over the divorce process. The following reasons are the primary financial benefits of legal separation.
- Legal separation may be advantageous if you need to continue to receive health insurance benefits under your spouse's plan. Once a couple is divorced, most employer health plans will terminate health coverage to an employee's ex-spouse. A separation may solve this problem. However, make sure that you examine the specific coverage policy. Some plans do not cover spouses during separation.
- Legal separation may also help you and your spouse retain specific tax benefits. Many advantages exist through joint filing. On the other hand, federal tax law is complex, and the IRS generally follows state law for the determination of a couple's marital status. Your marriage class will depend upon state and federal level laws.
- Some prefer legal separation because certain military benefits can be retained. A divorce might end such advantages.

These are just a few of the financial motives for legal separation.

There are reasons unrelated to finances that make legal separation more attractive than divorce. For example, some couples remain separated for religious reasons as some religious faiths prohibit divorce. If you or your spouse follows a religion that does not approve of divorce, separating may be a superior option. In addition, you may opt for a temporary separation arrangement to ease children into the idea of a divorce.

There are a number of reasons why you might prefer a legal separation. However, the specific financial benefits of the process may depend on the law of your state. In some cases, divorce may be a better route.

It would not hurt to speak with a qualified family law attorney about your particular situation.

Article provided by Spencer & Sundstrom PLLC
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