If your marriage is on the rocks, but you are hopeful that you might work things out after a break, then you should consider a legal separation. In some cases, legal separation is a prerequisite for the dissolution of marriage, with its alternative being mediation. If your state allows legal separation, and you do not wish to go through the expensive and emotionally draining divorce process, then a legal separation is ideal.
But, is a legal separation necessary? When is it a good idea to opt for a legal separation agreement?
Conflict: if your marriage is rife in conflict and you cannot communicate healthily, then a legal separation agreement is highly recommended. The agreement defines all that is expected of you during the separation period.
Mistrust: if you think that your spouse will go back on their word, a verbal agreement will not be viable, hence the need for a signed legal separation agreement. Since the document is signed in the presence of a third party, you can trust your spouse to honor their word, and if they have issues later on, they will follow the right procedure to raise and solve their problems. A separation agreement is legally binding.
Need to set up a visitation schedule: If you have kids, it becomes difficult to keep your word. The only way for you to avoid conflict is by setting up a visitation schedule and indicate who has access to the kids when they are in one spouse’s custody, and whether or not your kids can travel with your spouse in your absence. The agreement is an informed option and the best way to protect your children and your parenting rights.
Spousal support and other expenses: although the enforcement of spousal support cannot take place without a court order, the agreement after filing for a legal separation protects the interests of the spouse that requires support, as well as the one that offers support. The signed agreement keeps things in order and makes the responsible party responsible if they default on their payments. On top of the spousal support, the separation agreement will determine who pays for bills and other expenses.
Health insurance: in most cases, legal separation is the only way for a couple to stay on their partner’s health insurance policy. You might also use the agreement to determine the percentage of coverage the party without insurance receives.
Taxes: when you choose to remain legally married, even when you cannot agree on several things, you can save a bit of money in taxes because you will file taxes as a married couple rather than as singles. This is because there are more tax deductions and tax breaks accessible to married couples than they are for singles.
It’s important to note that despite the advantages that come with the filing of a legal separation, there are a few disadvantages. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the separation might be long term or short term. If divorce is not an option for you, the legal separation is your best bet.