1. People & Relationships

If you are having marital problems and have decided to separate, I encourage you to have an attorney draw up and both spouses sign a legal separation agreement. Please be aware that not all states recognize legal separation. In those states, that do the process should be smooth. Smooth as long as your and your spouse come to terms easily.

In states that donít recognize legal separation speak with a local family law attorney about your options if all you want is a legal separation. In some states, it is possible to draw up a separation agreement signed by both spouses that would be legal and binding. In some states the divorce process must begin before the court will recognize any agreement, you and your spouse come to.

The bottom line is, you want a legal separation agreement that will protect you during a separation in case your spouse fails to live up to his/her obligations as outlined in the agreement. You want an agreement that will hold up in court should you have to go to court to have it enforced.

  • If you are paying your spouse, spousal support those payments can be claimed as a deduction at tax time. Only if the payments are part of the legal separation agreement though. If you are merely separated with no legal agreement, any monies given to your spouse cannot be deducted at tax time.

  • A legal separation agreement means retaining certain benefits you held during the marriage. Letís say you are a spouse who is covered under your spouseís health insurance plan. With a legal separation agreement, it can be written into the agreement that those benefits continue during the period of separation.

  • If you and your spouse own a home who pays for what will be outlined in the legal separation agreement. When maintaining a home there are issues such as mortgage payments, utilities, lawn care and maintenance that need to be considered. In a legal separation agreement who is responsible for what portion of the upkeep of the marital home is outlined.

  • Most couples have joint checking and savings accounts and joint credit accounts. A legal separation agreement would define whether or not both spouses still have access to any joint accounts. It may stipulate that all joint bank accounts be closed and each spouse open accounts in their own names. It may also stipulate which spouse pay what monies on any joint credit accounts held by the couple. All issues pertaining to how money is spent and who is responsible for what is outlined so that both spouseís will be protected.

  • Most importantly, a legal separation agreement will protect you from being responsible for any debt your spouse acquires during the period of separation if you live in an equitable distribution state. If you live in a community property state, you donít get this protection under a legal separation agreement.

Comments
February 2, 2011 at 6:04 am
(1) Peter Anderson says:

can my ex partner be legaly forced to hand over financial info and or be forced into a financial seperation agreement

March 20, 2012 at 3:21 am
(2) Shanna says:

ok well in june 2010 i caught my husband cheating n me .it had been going on for almost a yr and when i found out he said it was over and wanted to b w me ,being together for almost tweelve yrss i, completley lost my mind 3 kids that i had stayed home to care for for 5 yrs practically alone wen he paid for everything i was put under evaluation cause of shaking panic attacks and depresion then diagnoised w ptsd.he would tell me it was over but kept catchin him. he moved to a appt to wrk things out with being some spaace.
I was put on heavy meds to stabalize my self .2-3 mnths lat i was doing better but now after we mabe an agreement w the kids half half i was not getting them i have no car no job he stopd paying every tjing i ended up moving w his mom. I had to leave nev to relocate to were i could wrk n cali and n the past nine months have seen my boys 9 days and my oldesstays w me and his daddosent call help him oit w anything i make 9 an hr at my job rent is 675 i need help and i want to go after him for my younger two boys wat can i do please help

February 21, 2013 at 11:04 am
(3) Bruce says:

Similar to Peter, I’d like to know if my spouse has to reveal State a/o federal (SSI) assistance to properly determine the amount of support she should get if I retain all the bill paying (I’m the only one working).

February 21, 2013 at 11:42 am
(4) Cathy Meyer says:

Hi Bruce, SSI is income so, yes, she will be asked to show how much SSI she receives monthly. I’m assuming you have an attorney helping you, if so it is your attorney’s responsibility to request this information from your wife.

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