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Financial differences: divorce vs. separation

With a soaring nationwide divorce rate, Florida couples are not unfamiliar with marital problems. Yet, for couples in the midst of these problems, it can be a difficult decision whether to simply separate in the hopes of reconciling or move straight into a divorce. While there are many factors that go into this decision, one of the most prominent might be how one's finances will change in the process.

Legal separation can be seen as a divorce without dissolution of a marriage. Spouses might not live under the same roof, but they are able to maintain shared benefits and finances such as health insurance. There is usually no time limit in which one must secure a new plan before he or she is financially separated from a spouse, as is common in divorce.

When a couple ends a marriage, they not only cannot continue to share insurance, but they no longer benefit from inheritance rights, tax benefits or protections associated with the joint ownership of property. Depending on the length of a marriage, shared Social Security benefits can also be affected. Considering these factors, legal separation could seem to be the better deal, but there are also risks that come with postponing a divorce in this way.

Legal separation is often a bridge between marriage and divorce for couples who might not be sure that they're ready to split for good. This can be beneficial for people who need time to work out their finances before being entirely on their own. However, it can also hurt someone in the case that a spouse depletes shared marital assets before a divorce is pursued. Regardless, when considering the end of a marriage, couples benefit from being fully aware of their options and what ways they may proceed.

Source: Fox Business, "Separation or Divorce? What Each Means for Your Finances," July 25, 2012

• The legal and financial complications associated with a divorce can be difficult to understand. If you would like to learn more about your rights and options, you can visit our Pensacola divorce page.

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Stephen T. Holman, P.A.
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