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Legal separation versus divorce

Countingsheep65 posted 7/6/2020 15:19 PM

Has anyone done a legal separation instead of divorce?

Pros/cons?

EllieKMAS posted 7/6/2020 15:28 PM

Depending on what state you're in, a legal separation usually stops the clock on alimony/spousal support. And most states also have a time limit for separation.

Just curious, but why are you exploring the S option and not the D option? Not that it's wrong, just personally think if I have to file paperwork to be legally separated, I might as well file for the whole enchilada.

Phoenix1 posted 7/6/2020 15:34 PM

I considered it initially, but ultimately went with D. I also have a colleague that was legally separated for about 15 years before finally getting a D.

If the state allows it (not all states do), and there are benefits at stake in a D (health benefits, retirement benefits, etc.) and NEITHER party is interested in getting married to anyone else, there is a purpose for it.

My colleague had those issues at play. The wife didn't want to lose her benefits, and the husband (colleague) didn't care about her staying on his plans. Everything else was split (assets/debts) and each was prohibited from obtaining any future assets/debts using the others' name, nor was either financially liable for future debts of the other.

The wife ended up moving out of state and moving in with a new boyfriend. The legal separation stayed in place, until the wife and new BF decided they wanted to get married. She filed for D after 15 years, and it got UGLY. Even though they had all these agreements in place, she wanted more. It became a long (read: expensive) drawn out contested D, and the wife did walk away with more. My colleague was furious, and regretted agreeing to the legal separation. He told me he felt absolutely nothing good came from it except the fact that the initial negotiation process was smooth, painless, quick (compared to a contested D) and worked well for over 15 years. The final fallout of ugliness and additional expense wiped out all the positives, in his estimation, and he said he wished he had just gone through the D from the beginning.

Take it for what it is worth as just one person's experience. I am also VERY glad I chose to D rather than legally separate. I would not have wanted ANY connection to Xhole.

Countingsheep65 posted 7/6/2020 23:14 PM

My only reason I would consider legal separation is only due to health care coverage.

Iím 55, been through cancer, I would never be able to afford it.

Iím no longer able to work full time due to severe arthritis in my back.

TheLostOne2020 posted 7/7/2020 08:42 AM

I'm in Northern VA, in VA you have to be separated for a year - unless you do an 'at fault' (I think). My ex and I got a mediator and so we are 'separated' until Jan 2nd 2021. That's when I submit the paperwork to a lawyer and I guess he puts his name on it and charges me $500 for it and 'bam' I'm divorced.

The pros of going through a mediator is that is was vastly cheaper than both of us hiring lawyers.

The cons are if you can't agree with your former partner on how to split things.

gmc94 posted 7/7/2020 10:05 AM

i believe it varies state to state, but the gist is that the couple is divorced in every way except for the term "divorced". Most states can convert the legal separation decree and turn it into a divorce decree relatively easily - just a matter of inserting the magic divorce language (irreconcilable differences, irretrievable breakdown, etc)

I would be wary of folks who do legal S vs D for healthcare. Many plans have language that says the spouse is no longer able to get the benefit if they legally separate. And if the plan you presently have would continue to provide coverage to a legally separated spouse, that could change if the spouse with the insurance changes jobs.

Just something to consider.

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