Married couples who wish to part ways have two options: legal separation and divorce. Legal separation is an agreement between a couple to live apart but remain legally married. There are many benefits to choosing the legal separation route, including:
- Opportunity to separate without the legal finality of a divorce
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Leaving the door open for reconciliation
- Conforming to religious belief
- Financial benefits
Reconciliation without the Need to Remarry
While divorce permanently ends the marriage, legal separations can be reversed. This opens the possibility of reuniting spouses without requiring them to remarry. While legally separated, spouses have the opportunity to live away from each other. This can help them decide whether it is best to make it permanent through a divorce or get back together and give the marriage another shot.
Less Strain on the Children
The effects of divorce on the children can be devastating. With legal separation, spouses can spend time apart without disrupting their kids’ lives. It can protect children from having to deal with the consequences of divorce such as emotional stress, change in domicile, name changes, etc. Legal separation allows the kids to still experience a tight family bond even though their parents live apart.
Some religions do not allow divorce. In worst cases, the church excommunicates a member who files for a divorce and remarries. This is why some couples opt for legal separation instead. For spouses who need to stay married due to religious obligations, legal separation provides an opportunity to live an independent life without having to leave the church.
Legal separation has many financial benefits. For some, this is a major consideration for not getting a divorce.
- Tax deduction from spousal support
If you are paying spousal support, you can claim those payments as a tax deduction if they are part of a legal separation agreement.
- Keep insurance coverage
A divorce removes all the marital benefits you previously enjoyed. With a legal separation agreement, you’ll be able to retain certain perks such as coverage from your ex’s health insurance plan.
- Financial obligations are clearly outlined in a legal document
When a couple decides to separate, financial obligations need to be defined too. A legal separation agreement can clearly outline who pays for what. The document will include who gets to live in the conjugal home and who pays for mortgage payments, utilities, and household upkeep.
- Assets are split formally
Since most couples have joint accounts, it is wise to have a legal separation agreement drafted to formally state who gets what. They could decide to close the account and require each party to open accounts in their own names.
For couples who maintain a joint credit account, the document may stipulate how money is spent and which spouse is responsible for what.
- Protection from debt
Another important aspect of legal separation is protecting you from any debt your spouse incurs after the breakup.
Not all states recognize legal separation. If you are having marital problems and have decided to separate, it is highly recommended that you consult with a family law attorney about your options.
Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney at Bandre, Hunt and Snider in Jefferson City, MO. Bandre, Hunt and Snider are the best attorneys Jefferson City MO have to offer.