If you and your spouse have not been happy for a long time, you might be considering divorce. But if the idea of legally ending your marriage is overwhelming, don’t feel pressured to do so right now. Instead, you should consider separation, which allows you and your spouse to start living separate lives without deciding to end the marriage through divorce legally.
You can think of separation as putting a temporary hold on your marriage. Depending on how it works for you, you might decide to get a divorce after months of separation, or you might choose to get back together. The outcome is up to you. Consider the benefits of separation rather than divorce, and then talk to a family law attorney about your decision.
Do You Need a Break from Your Spouse?
If you’re not feeling fulfilled in your marriage but not quite ready to stop working on it forever, separating may be the right move for you. When you separate from your spouse, one of you moves out of the house so you can get a feel for living separately. You can continue this for as long as you’d like. If you miss your spouse and want to work on the marriage, you can simply move back in with each other. If you’re both better off separated, you can continue this arrangement as long as it works for you, or you can progress toward divorce.
If you’re worried about dealing with the bills or determining whom the children live with during separation, you can go to court to get a separation agreement that addresses these issues. In South Carolina, this is called an Order of Separate Support and Maintenance, and it addresses how to divide property, who pays child support, and how to divide bills.
Keep in mind that to get a no-fault divorce in this state, you and your spouse must live in separate homes for at least one year. So, you can use your separation as a trial period to give you and your spouse some space before moving in together again. But if you decide to get divorced, your separation period will provide you with a head start on the process, as you will be able to file as soon as you’ve lived apart for one year. This is an essential benefit of separation.
What Are the Financial Advantages of a Separation?
Some married couples are satisfied staying separated for years because it’s financially beneficial for them compared to divorce. For instance, if your spouse has insurance coverage for the family and you don’t want to lose it right now, staying legally married may be right for you. This will let you remain covered by health or life insurance until you can afford your own plan.
Another financial advantage is filing taxes jointly. Spouses are entitled to certain tax breaks that single filers don’t get, and some couples find this benefit worth delaying or avoiding divorce.
Some benefits require you to be married for a minimum amount of time, such as ten years, to qualify. So, if you’re hoping to be entitled to your spouse’s military or Social Security benefits, you might delay divorce until after that time has passed. Of course, you both must come to this agreement together, which isn’t always possible. If you have questions about how divorce might affect financial benefits, ask your family law attorney.
Should You Separate or Divorce?
While there are some benefits to separating, many couples ultimately get divorced, either right away or after several months of separation. In some cases, they’d rather cut all ties legally than stay married to their spouse, despite possible financial benefits.
But another major reason to choose divorce is that you can’t remarry until you get divorced. In fact, you must be careful about even dating other people while separated, because your spouse can accuse you of adultery and keep you from getting alimony and other benefits. So, if you’re interested in starting a new relationship or marrying someone else soon, divorce may be the right choice.
Your divorce lawyer will advise you on whether you should separate or divorce. Contact The Howze Law Firm LLC at 803-266-1812 to schedule an initial consultation with caring, experienced attorneys.