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When is separation the right answer?

29765997_S (2).jpgFor Springfield-area couples who are struggling with their marriage but not ready to throw in the towel, a legal separation may be the right decision. Along with giving each spouse time and space to think about all the ramifications of divorce, a separation has financial benefits too.

A legal separation is different than what some may consider a "trial" separation, which may be just having one partner move to a different home for a few months, according to Forbes. A legal separation is a binding agreement that covers spousal and child support, visitation and division of debt and assets. Not having an agreement in place means you are still liable for any legal issues or debts that your partner has.

Financial benefits of legal separation can include collecting a bigger check from Social Security, ongoing inclusion in a health plan, tax and military benefits and more. For those who are married at least 10 years, Social Security benefits kick in that allows the spouse who makes less money to receive 50 percent of the breadwinner's benefits, if that amount is more than his or her own benefits. Additional benefits include:

  • Health insurance: Spouses can retain medical insurance, often at a lower cost.
  • Income tax: Remaining married allows couples to continue filing a joint return, often realizing more significant savings than if they filed individually.
  • Military: Spouses may retain some military benefits, such as lower-cost loans, insurance and survivor benefits.

Sometimes a legal separation is an answer for couples who, for religious reasons, do not wish to divorce. Some couples even remain in the same household but continue a relationship that is more like that between roommates.

A separation agreement should include all the details that would be involved in a divorce, because it may indeed be carried forward into a divorce agreement should you decide to go that route. This is an important consideration; as estranged spouses begin to go their separate ways, the cooperation that led you to separate may disappear. If that happens, you have an agreement already in place that may spare you a legal battle.

The information in this article is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice.

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