Not every married couple who decides they do not want to live with their spouse files for divorce. There are couples who make the decision to file for a legal separation before divorce. There are several reasons why this may be more beneficial than immediately filing for divorce. The following is a brief overview of what some of the benefits are, however, skilled divorce lawyers Phoenix, AZ residents trust can evaluate your situation to see that the best legal course of action may be.
When a couple is legally separated, they are still legally married even if they are living apart. They may be living entirely separate lives; however, neither spouse is free to marry anyone else. Some of the benefits that a legal separation can offer a couple include:
- The couple does not have to file for divorce if they are separated, which may offer financial benefits they would lose if they divorced. For example, if one spouse covers the other spouse under their employer’s health insurance, this arrangement could continue indefinitely if the couple is legally separated. If the couple divorced, the insured spouse would no longer be covered.
- The couple could continue to take advantage of tax benefits if they are legally separated that would end if they divorced. This may also apply to certain insurance and other discounts married couples receive that divorced couples do not.
- In some states, it is a prerequisite for divorce that the couple live apart for a certain length of time. A legal separation provides the necessary evidence to the court that you have actually met that prerequisite. A divorce attorney can explain if this is required in your state.
- Religious beliefs are another reason why couples file for a legal separation instead of divorce. There are some religions where divorce is unrecognized or it is forbidden. A divorce can result in the spouses being excommunicated from their church or otherwise shunned. Yet the reality is that marriages do not work out and some couples are much happier apart than together. A legal separation allows the couple to live independent of each other, with all the legal protections put in place, such as custody, child support, and spousal support. And it does so while still allowing the couple to obey their church’s doctrine.
- One of the most common reasons why couples file for legal separation is because they are not really sure they want to divorce. They know they are both unhappy and that the marriage has issues, but neither one is ready to take that final step. Just as in the reason mentioned above, a legal separation offers the couple all the legal protections while they decide what they want to do. Many couples will take the opportunity to attend marital and family counseling to see if they can work through their issues. If they decide to reconcile, the legal separation can be legally dismissed. If they decide to move forward with the divorce, many of the issues that need to be negotiated may already have been addressed in the legal separation.