Separating Before Divorce? Be Sure To Make It Legal

The time between a split and the final decree should not be thought of as just a transitional period. The decisions made by a divorcing couple during the separation will influence both parties for years to come. While divorce can impact people in many ways, it's the financial aspect that few couples give proper consideration and attention to. For help understanding the financial importance of a legal separation agreement when you decide to divorce, read on.

  1. Protect Your Children – You don't have to wait for the divorce to become final to seek child support. Temporary orders issued during separation can be part of a legal separation agreement. With this, the responsible party can be spelled out along with the amount. If you are the receiving parent, you can expect to be paid a calculated sum based on your state's median wage and the income of the paying parent. Temporary child support orders can be folded into the final decree and that will save some time and money when you are ready to finalize the divorce.
  2. Draw a Line in the Sand – In many states, you may be responsible for debts incurred on joint accounts – even after you separate. To help keep things orderly and accurate, a legal separation agreement can stipulate to the day when you will no longer be liable for your spouse's spending on credit cards and other debts.
  3. Get Some Support – Along with child support, spousal support (or alimony) can also be part of a legal separation agreement. While not used as much as before, it's still needed and ordered in some situations. Talk to your divorce lawyer if your financial situation calls for additional support.

In addition to the above, a legal separation agreement can also help assign marital property like the family home, pets, and vehicles during the transitional period. Sometimes, an agreement also lets you take advantage of some of the perks of being married while living apart from each other. Namely, your tax situation may be better if you stay married – at least long enough to file taxes one more time. During the year your divorce is final, you may have to file as a single taxpayer, however. One other important financial consideration is Social Security retirement. You may have the opportunity to seek one-half of your ex's Social Security payment once you reach retirement age. You must, however, have been married for at least 10 years to do that. A legal separation agreement might allow you to stay married for that period so that you can take advantage of this perk.

To find out more about the services of a divorce lawyer, speak to a lawyer near you.