Legal separation is an option that married couples try prior to obtaining a divorce. Less expensive than an outright divorce, a separation gives both adults an opportunity to live on their own without officially dissolving the legal aspects of their marriage. A couple who separates may later reconcile without either party suffering any serious financial or legal harm. However, there are downsides to legal separation for which not everyone is prepared. Understanding why legal separation is not always a good idea increases your chances of making a choice that is right for you and your unique situation.
There are many benefits to marriage including various tax credits that are only available to married couples. In order to utilize all available credits, a couple must file their taxes as a joint married couple. After becoming separated, a couple filing taxes separately is no longer able to benefit from the more attractive financial incentives. Certain credits such as the earned income credit cannot be claimed if married adults are each filing their own separate returns. Being legally separated can prevent you from maximizing your expected tax refund or could lead to you and your spouse owing money to the federal or state governments.
Debt Continues to Accumulate
Couples who get married share everything, including debt. After you and your spouse decide to separate, there is nothing preventing your spouse from making irresponsible or poorly planned financial decisions that negatively impact your credit. If you decide that a divorce is the best option years after separating, you may find yourself responsible for paying off half of your spouses’ accumulated debt. A divorce is the best way to avoid being unexpectedly held responsible for debt that was acquired when you were not living with your spouse.
No Legal Finality
Though an agreement to separate may temporarily settle issues regarding property while giving both partners a break from each other, there is no legal finality. Issues regarding alimony, shared assets, and even custody may remain unresolved for months or even years. The only way to completely dissolve the union and move forward as an individual is with a divorce. Having the matter completely settled allows you, your former spouse, and your children to rebuild a new life.
Consult an Attorney
No matter how organized or prepared you are, it is possible to overlook important details once a divorce is finalized. Forgetting minor details can make your transition unnecessarily complicated and may even cause hardships. It is always a good idea to consult a qualified divorce attorney to get answers to any lingering questions. The law office of Vayman and Teitlebaum is available to help you, when needed, with four offices located throughout the Atlanta area. Contact us today at 678-736-7700 to schedule an appointment.