Before getting divorced, many couples often file for legal separation first. A legal separation is a court-approved written agreement which addresses each spouse’s rights and responsibilities while living apart but remaining legally married. While deciding between a divorce and a legal separation boils down to personal preference, there are many advantages to legal separation prior to filing for a divorce.
The following are several benefits of legal separation:
- Honor religious beliefs – In many cultures and religions, divorce is prohibited. If you wish to separate while remaining married due to religious purposes, legal separation is an effective alternative.
- Consider the possibility of reconciliation – Some couples who file for a legal separation are not quite sure if divorce is the best thing to do. To keep their options open and perhaps resolve any issues surrounding the marriage, legal separation allows spouses to spend time apart to see if divorce is right for them.
- Maintain healthcare – Legal separation allows you to continue receiving your spouse’s insurance. If a couple gets divorced, they can no longer be part of a joint health insurance plan. However, it is important to check the policy to determine if you would still retain coverage after legally separating.
- Receive Social Security and military benefits – In order to receive military and Social Security benefits from your spouse’s work, you need to be married for at least ten years. Legal separation enables you to technically remain married until you are eligible for these benefits.
- Continue to receive tax benefits by filing jointly – You can only file jointly on your taxes if you are still married, which means a legal separation doesn’t change your marital status. Continuing to file taxes jointly can result in some tax benefits compared to filing as a single individual.
- Faster divorce process – If you and your spouse decide divorce is the best option, the separation agreement can be changed to a divorce decree.
Remember, a legal separation can be just as stressful and confusing as divorce. If you are interested in legally separating from your spouse, a family law attorney can help you determine whether or not a legal separation is appropriate.