by Peggy Williams
Co-founder, Divorce Helpline
When you are legally separated, you are financially and legally separate, single people, but you are technically still married. There are financial, emotional, and religious reasons that can make legal separation preferable to divorce.
If for religious or ethical reasons you cannot tolerate being divorced, you can get a legal separation and technically remain married.
Emotionally, if you or your spouse are not sure you want a divorce but you can agree that some formal, legal space is required to gain time to think things through, filing for legal separation is a good option. It is a softer action, one that doesn’t close the door so loudly on reconciliation.
Here are some financial reasons to consider legal separation:
If a non-employee spouse has a pre-existing condition or for some other reason will not be able to get medical insurance, some plans allow you to keep a separated spouse on the employee spouse’s health insurance.
To remain legally married until the ten-year deadline for certain Social Security benefits.
To remain legally married until the ten-year deadline for military pension enforcement advantages or a twenty-year deadline for PX and commissary benefits.
Tax filing status. If you don’t want to file jointly as a married couple in the next tax return, your only choices are “married filing separately,” “single,” or “head of household.” If you don’t qualify as “head of household” and don’t want to file a joint return as a married couple, then your only choice is “married filing separately,” which is disadvantageous and costly. It could save you a bundle to be able to file as “single.” To file as single in your next tax return, you must be divorced or legally separated by December 31.
In many states, there is a waiting period for divorce but no waiting period for a legal separation. For people in that situation, it might be worth it to get a legal separation in order to be done with it by December 31 and therefore qualified to file as “single.” Later, if you want to, you can file another action for divorce. The downside is that you have to pay a new filing fee and, possibly, the cost of having someone complete your divorce paperwork. But the tax savings may far outweigh these costs.
To find out if a legal separation will improve your bottom line, talk to your accountant before you take a trip to the courthouse. Find out which filing status will work best for both of you.
You can get complete instructions for how to do a Legal Separation in Ed Sherman’s book, How to Do Your Own Divorce in California. For more information, click here.
I’ve been married a year and 10 mothns. Our biggest test has been overcoming the temptation to quit. We are now leveling out and coming to a point where we are now considering each other. During our first year and 1/2 we were trying to please each other by doing things that we thought you should do. For example, I was dressed up with candle lights and lingirie waiting for my husband when he got home from work at 11pm. I was very angry when I found that he wanted to go to sleep after I had made the sacrafice to wait up for him. Now, I understand that he is truly tired, and we make compromises. A wise person once said, Seek to understand, and then to be understood. This is a very helpful thing to do in a marraige. Even when the other person does’nt understand you, and you sacrafice to understand them, they see your efforts and notice a difference in you and will eventually come around and adopt your maturity. Do what works for you all and not what others in other people’s marraiges or what you think SHOULD work.
Learning that you don’t stop having cserhus just because you’re married. And then figuring out that where so many people go wrong is that there is nothing innocent that can be done to indulge one, you simply have to turn your back on it. Affairs don’t start in bed, they start over lunch. This is a matter of personal growth, though. It all is, really. But what helped us the most was the time we spent talking with each other just after we were married. We learned about each other’s childhood even though we had been going together for a couple of years. We talked about things we had seen in other marriages and what we could do to avoid them. That’s how we came up with the rules:1. No cheating, no beating.2. Don’t insult/belittle your spouse, either behind their back or to their face. If you have a problem with me, bring it to me.3. Any problems we can’t solve on our own go straight to a counselor.4. If you want to leave, you have to provide a suitable replacement first.
Divorce Lawyers says
A legal separation can be less costly than a divorce in the long run, especially when both parties agree to the separation. If both spouses agree to petition for a separation, the process can be completed without an attorney’s assistance.