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The Dangers of Separation Without Divorce

It is not uncommon for marriage to feel similar to a roller coaster ride. There are ups, there are downs, and there are times when the ride shuts down and requires maintenance. Couples going through a down or maintenance period may decide that a break from the marriage is needed. A recent publication discusses these breaks, noting more and more couples are choosing to take a break after decades of marriage.

What causes this break? According to the piece, the fact that we now have a much longer life span plays a big roll. Many couples are looking into retirement and realizing that they do not want to share their sunset years with their current spouse. In an effort to decide what the future holds, many choose to take a break with an unofficial separation from their spouse.

Although a short separation can help each individual decide whether or not continuing the marital relationship is in their best interest, a long separation can pose problems. Two specific issues to consider include:

  • Debts. While you are married, any debts accumulated by one spouse are generally the obligation of both. A separation does not remove this obligation, but a divorce does. As a result, any purchases (vehicles, second properties, jewelry, vacations) made during the separation may be the obligation of both parties.
  • Retirement assets. Certified divorce financial analysts note that retirement assets are often difficult to split. This is particularly true if the married couple is separated. After a divorce, an ex may need special paperwork to receive payments from the retirement account. Without this paperwork, a separated spouse may not be able to claim retirement assets.

Once you decide that you no longer want to continue your marriage with your spouse, the difficulties associated with these issues can be resolved by seeking legal counsel and moving forward with a divorce. An experienced attorney can discuss the issues noted above along with all other issues that could impact your divorce. Each divorce is unique and can have its own set of issues. Your attorney will advocate for your interests, working to better ensure that you are not responsible for your ex's debts and that you can access retirement assets along with any other issues that may arise.

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