If your marriage is strained, but you don’t feel like divorce is the answer right now, a legal separation might be a better option in the short term, as it leaves the door open for reconciliation. Today, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of legal separation to help you determine what your best route forward is. If you’re looking for a family lawyer in Austin, call the Law Office of Tobie Kuykendall today.
-What is a Legal Separation?
When a married couple comes to an agreement regarding their assets and how to manage their affairs without getting a formal divorce, it is considered a legal separation. However, just like divorce, a separation must be granted by a court order for it to be legally recognized by the state. While couples can make their own contract for their separation outside of a court, a judge must issue a ruling in order for it to be official.
-Pros of Separation
There are many appealing benefits that make separation an ideal option for certain married couples. Some of those benefits include:
- Either spouse has a religious or ethical objection against getting divorced.
- If one spouse needs to continue receiving insurance coverage from the other spouse’s provider.
- They believe they can reconcile their marriage issues, but feel that living apart for some time will be beneficial to the relationship.
- Either spouse doesn’t want to live together through the mandatory waiting period required by some states before their divorce is finalized (Texas has a waiting period of 61 days, other states can be as long as six months).
- Some tax benefits may be available, which can help stabilize a couple’s finances prior to a divorce being finalized.
- May allow one spouse to qualify for social security or other benefits of the other spouse prior to a divorce. For instance, spouses of someone in the military may want to utilize the benefits of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), which requires a marriage that lasted at least 10 years.
-Cons of Separation
While there are many positives that come with separation, there are certain aspects of it which make divorce or annulment a more appropriate option, including:
- Any separation contract that divides property between spouses is binding once they get divorced. This is because courts will often take the contract for separation as the basis of a divorce contract.
- Insurance policies might not continue to cover a spouse in the event of a separation, depending on their terms and conditions.
- A couple that is separated cannot get remarried until a divorce is finalized.
- Any joint financial accounts or agreements (such as a mortgage) is still accessible to both spouses, and both of them remain liable for the repayment of those shared debts.
- It can breed resentment between former spouses, with a feeling that they are unable to move on with their lives.
- Financial freedom can be difficult to achieve, especially if one spouse is still holding onto the marital home. In some cases, it can be more advantageous for the house to be sold and profits split between spouses to help each one have a fresh start.
With many pros and cons on each side of separation, it can be difficult to determine if it would be the right choice for you. While weighing your options based on this information is a good start, you won’t know which course of action is the best for your situation until you speak with an attorney. For the Austin area, the Law Office of Tobie Kuykendall is here to answer all of your family law questions. We can handle divorce, custody, child support, and more. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.