If problems in your marriage are getting worse, but you're not ready to file for divorce, you may want to consider a legal separation. A legal separation will allow you to take a break from your marriage while you try to assess your next move. One of the benefits of having a legal separation is that the agreement can be the underlying foundation of your final divorce agreement. Here are four other benefits that might make a legal separation your best bet while you try to decide your next move.
Secures Custody Arrangements
If there are children from the marriage, you need to ensure that their needs are taken care of. A legal separation will secure custody, visitation, and support arrangements. Should you decide to proceed with a divorce, the arrangements you made during your separation can carry over to your final divorce agreement. This ensures that your rights as a parent are protected during your separation.
Prevents Additional Debt
If you separate without obtaining a legal agreement from the courts, you may be held liable for any additional debt your spouse obtains during your time of separation. However, by having an attorney submit paperwork for a legal separation agreement, you are legally protected from responsibility for that additional debt. This is particularly important if you live in a state that allows spouses to have separate credit and property.
Provides Some Tax Benefits
If you're ordered to pay spousal support as a condition for your legal separation, you may be able to claim those payments as a tax deduction. However, the support must be court-ordered. This can help offset the cost of support payments you'll be making to your spouse during the separation. It's important to note that the deduction doesn't apply if you and your spouse are not legally separated.
Gives You Legal Protection
Perhaps the most important aspect of the legal separation is that it's enforceable through the courts. That means that if your spouse fails to honor the agreement, you can go to court and seek sanctions from the court. For instance, if your spouse is ordered to pay spousal support, and refuses to do so, the court can help you obtain those funds during your separation. The court can also help if your spouse fails to honor other aspects of the agreement as well, such as child custody arrangements.
If you're not sure you want to make it permanent yet, you may want to consider a legal separation. Talk to your attorney to see if a legal separation is right for you.
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