2/23/2018

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Legal Separation

A legal separation may sometimes be in the best interest of a married couple before they seek a court sanctioned divorce.

Sometimes anger, health problems, misunderstandings, or any number of things may cause a division in a marriage, or it may be that a couple just has a need to take a break from each other.

A legal separation gives both parties the time needed to think, sort out their problems, get counseling if needed, and look for ways to keep their marriage in tact.

It may also make sense as a strategic move to guarantee certain future benefits of a marriage, such as of social security or medical benefits, before finalizing a divorce.

  • Social Security may require a spouse to be married a specific number of years to qualify for benefits, usually 10 years.
  • The military requires a spouse to be married at least 10 years in order to take advantage of certain spousal benefits.

A legal separation does not end a marriage but it requires a court order outlining responsibilities and the rights of both parties. Although you lead separate lives, you remain married.

There is a difference between separating and a legal separation. A legal separation is an order from the courts that govern certain activities by both parties, such as child custody issues and alimony or spousal support.

  • Taxes may be filed jointly, which may benefit both spouses.
  • Medical benefits may be retained.

On the other hand, a married couple may separate on their own free will without the involvement of the courts. In this situation, couples can have a mutual contract drawn up, by themselves or by an attorney, in which both parties agree to and abide by.

A legal separation can set the tone for an eventual divorce if things cannot be worked out between a husband and wife. The courts may look at the legal separation documents and make a final dissolution based on what has already been agreed to.

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