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Legal separation vs. divorce

So, you are having problems with your spouse. At the time you are unsure of how you’d like to proceed. It’s not really a secret that getting a divorce can be hard.

Is there a middle ground that might allow you and your spouse to settle things and decide if you really want to get a divorce? Yes, and that is a legal separation, and according to Mydomaine, it works a bit different:

Unlike divorce, a legal separation does not put an end to the marriage, it enables you to live separately while remaining married. During the time you are living apart, you have a court order that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse.

A legal separation agreement will cover everything your divorce would be dealing with: child support, custody,  division of marital assets and debts, child custody and child support, visitation schedules, and spousal support. You and your spouse will still remain legally married, but choosing to live separate lives, and there can be some key benefits in this arrangement:

  • You’ll have more time to cool-off and thing if you really want a divorce. By taking this route, you’ll be able to get some space and also seek for couples’ counseling.
  • You’ll be able to retain medical insurance. Unlike divorce, a legal separation will not leave one or both spouses without medical insurance.
  • It will be a lesser financial burden. The costs are very different and it might be a good option for couples who are struggling financially or if one of the spouses has been out of the workforce for some time.
  • It can work better with your religious beliefs. If your faith is incompatible with divorce, a legal separation might work on your side. You’ll be able to retain your marital status while living separate lives.
  • If you are a military spouse, might want to remain married for 10 years so you are able to benefit from the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. However, as Cathy Meyer points out:
    • Please be aware, though, that just as in civil cases judges have great discretion when it comes to splitting assets like retirement income during a military divorce.

  • Also for civil marriages, there can be some advantages to remaining married for 10 years, like getting social security benefits.
  • Remaining married for 10 years or more also means being able to take advantage of certain social security benefits for a spouse. If at retirement age your spouse will draw more social security than you, it is to your benefit to remain married for 10 years so you can draw a larger sum of social security by drawing on your spouse’s social security retirement.
  • If you ultimately decide to divorce, a legal separation agreement can become a divorce settlement agreement. This will make things a lot easier and save you a lot of money down the road.

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What happens if you decide to divorce, after all?

If you are unable to work things out after your separation, the good news is that you’ll have a much easier road ahead. It’s important to keep in mind that you are comfortable with what is set on the separation agreement.

If your case goes to court, a judge is likely to assume that your separation agreement was something you were comfortable with and might carry out the same terms to your divorce agreement.

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Charlotte Christian did an outstanding job handling my complicated divorce. I could not of asked for a better outcome. Knowledgable and professional attorney providing exceptional service.