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How will a legal separation affect your financial state?

Spokane residents considering a divorce might be interested to learn that more and more couples are choosing to separate indefinitely under family law, rather than filing for divorce.

There are many obvious questions that follow a couple's decision to do this: Why would two people who no longer wish to be married or live together choose to live in a state of limbo by remaining legally separated, and is it really important to separate legally?

Separation was once considered a wise choice to ensure that a couple really wanted to pursue divorce, but these days, many couples are seeing added benefits to separation. Couples are reportedly opting for legal separation rather than divorce because they think it is a better financial decision.

A legal separation is often sought when a couple is going to live apart for longer than a reasonable trial period. A legal separation protects you from situations that remain unprotected in an informal separation. A legal separation outlines debt and asset division, child and spousal support, and custody issues in a binding legal agreement. Informal separations do not address these issues in a manner that is legally binding. Those who legally separate, rather than divorce, may see the following financial benefits:

• Qualification for Social Security benefits by meeting the 10-year marriage requirement

• Continuance of health insurance benefits from your spouse's plan

• Joint filing tax benefits

• Ability to pool financial resources

The requirements for legal separation vary from state to state, and the decision to separate rather than divorce is quite complex. It would be wise to speak with a Spokane family law attorney to ensure that legal separation is the right choice for your situation, and that the agreement you create is legally binding in Washington and will protect you and your financial future.

Source: Forbes, "Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially?" Jeff Landers, Jan. 10, 2012

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