By Allen Brown
While most issues can be solved between a married couple without going to extremes, sometimes legal separation and divorce are the only options that a person has. However, neither of these options are very easy to choose from and need some serious consideration. There are important points to be aware of when it comes to either option and luckily you will find the factors that need to be contemplated below.
1- Differences You Need to Be Aware of
People often use separation and divorce interchangeably, however, there are distinct differences between them. In fact, there are different types of separation out there other than legal separation. Basically, being divorced means that you are no longer married to the person in the eyes of the law and that you are completely single. On the other hand, being legally separated means that you are still married even though you are living separately, and might be financially independent of each other. When you are legally separated, you cannot remarry, unlike if you are divorced. This is just one of the many differences between these two options, so it is important to thoroughly research what each option entails, depending on where you live. In some areas, being legally separated exempts you from incurring the debts of your spouse during the period of separation, while in other places this might not be the case.
2- Getting Custody
If you choose legal separation or divorce and you have children, then you will need to consider who exactly is going to get custody of them. It is important to remember that while you and your spouse are deciding to change your married status, your children will still have your ex-spouse as a parent. Discussing the different options available when it comes to custody is crucial if you do not want a drawn-out case with your children getting caught in the middle. Good legal counsel is quite necessary if you want to get more information about the processes and steps you need to take. In fact, nowadays, you can easily go now to different law firm websites that specialize in family law. If you are unsure what options you have when it comes to custody or whether you will be able to win a custody case, then you need to seek help from a legal professional.
4- Social Security and Health Insurance
Another factor that you need to take into consideration is social security and health insurance benefits that you or your spouse have from work. If you get divorced, you will not have the benefits that your spouse has and vice versa. This is one of the main reasons why many people opt for a legal separation rather than a full-on divorce. In most legal separation cases, both spouses still have access to health insurance or social security through their spouses’; however, this may not be the case in some states so it is important to make sure about this information before you go ahead with your decision.
5- Residency Requirements
To file for divorce or even separation, some documents are going to be necessary, including proof of residency. People can spend months apart without being legally separated, and in such cases, you are still considered to have a joint financial responsibility as well as the responsibility of properties. Getting a record of where you are living and confirming the fact that you are not living together can make your case easier.
6- Effects on Tax Status
As mentioned above, when you are divorced, you are considered single again. Therefore, you will have to file your taxes alone, which will surely affect your taxes and tax returns. On the other hand, being legally separated can cause some confusion when it comes to filing taxes because in some states you are required to file as a single person while in others, since you are still legally married, then you will need to file them together.
7- Division of Assets
In both cases, you need to make a list of the assets you have, both separate and joint ones, and start dividing them accordingly. Even though you are still married according to the law, a legal separation requires you and your spouse to divide all your assets. This includes liquidated assets, so any savings you have even if your spouse did not contribute to them might be at risk of being split between the two of you.
As you might have noticed from the above information, both options require a good amount of thought and consideration before starting either process. Having good legal counsel can help you settle on the right option for your needs, so do not hesitate to get professional help sooner rather than later. Now that you are aware of the different factors you need to contemplate, you can focus more on deciding which direction is the right choice for yourself.