There are multiple reasons why an individual may choose a legal separation rather than a divorce. These reasons may arise out of uncertainty of wanting to terminate the marriage, may be due to religious beliefs, or may stem from an individual’s wish to remain financially secure while living separately from his or her spouse. For which ever reason a person has decided legal separation is the best option it is clear that they are not necessarily ready for a complete severance of the marriage but still wish to live separate lives. Also, many people choose a legal separation when thee is still a chance the parties may still reconcile. It is important to remember that the reasons for someone to choose legal separation over divorce are both logical and financial in reasoning.
Benefits are a large reason why many of individuals choose to become legally separated rather than divorced. A process of divorce may diminish and individuals entitlement to certain benefits of their spouse where as a legal separation could still make them entitled to such benefits. Examples of this could be as simple as an individual desiring to remain on a health insurance plan and may even rise to wanting to maintain entitlement to social security or military benefits. If you are married for a minimum of 10 years you may be entitled to divorce spouse benefits from social security and an individual that may want to receive these benefits may choose to remain illegally separated until married longer than 10 years before opting to terminate the marriage through divorce. A similar 10 year rule applies to military spouses, “10/10 rule, “which determines how a military spouse obtains their portion of a veterans retired pay.
Legal advantages are a secondary reason why an individual may choose to separate instead of getting divorced. Legal separation has many family advantages that may be necessary for the best interest of children or may be necessary through religious beliefs. Separated individuals may in fact choose to live under the same roof and residence for the sake of their children while still maintaining separate financial and private lives. An individual may elect for separation when they may not want their spouse from being eligible to remarry – therefore maintaining the family unit. An additional family advantage is that any children born between the spouses would still be considered legitimate since the marriage is still valid. A legal separation could also offer legal advantages by legally protecting an individual that is worried that while spending unregulated separated time that the spouse may begin to run up open tabs, make extravagant purchases, and intentionally generate large portions of debt. Under a legal separation one would not be responsible for any such debt incurred on behalf of their spouse prior to a divorce or dissolution of the marriage. Another legal advantage of separations is that it may protect a spouse from being unknowingly charged with desertion or abandonment as grounds for divorce—therefore protecting an individual from legal fault and possible consequences of an undocumented separation such as additional legal fees or back pay of support.
Lastly, legal separation offers relief from the possibility of rising financial obligations that may be associated with a divorce. When getting a divorce parties will need to obtain separate living situations which will undoubtedly increase the cost of living and expenses for both parties involved. However when parties are legally separated they may decide to remain in the same household, while trying out separate lives, which allows the individuals to avoid the cost of additional living expenses. An additional financial benefit is that individuals may continue to file tax returns the same as when married and are still able to receive substantial tax refunds and advantages by being able to include their spouse and or their children as dependents in a joint tax return. In weighing the options of legal separation or divorce an individual should always consult with both legal and financial planners to determine which option produces the most benefit.