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Should You Legally Separate and Never Divorce?

Legal separation is being used more often by couples as a proxy for divorce.

During a financial squeeze, married couples often think outside of the box when it comes to divorce. With the hopes of saving on costly divorce expenses, many couples are bidding adieu to their "I do's" outside of the courtroom with a legal separation agreement.

Here are some of the plus-points of indefinite legal separation:

  • Following religious tenets. For people who follow a faith that frowns on divorce, legal separation might be an option to traverse the tricky religious terrain.
  • Softening the emotional blow. For many, divorce is a tough step to take because of the finality of it. If you shared many memories together and you don't feel emotionally prepared to brand your status with a "D," then legal separation might be a gentler path. That way, you have your own lives but don't have to deal with the emotional stigma of divorce.
  • Keeping the door open. In a similar vein, if reconciliation is possibly on the horizon, it might be more cost-effective and less of a hassle to legally separate rather than pre-emptively pull the divorce trigger. In a legal separation, no one requires that you and your spouse sign anything or formally divide your assets.
  • Staying insured. Health insurance plans usually cover separated spouses, but not divorced spouses. The fine print of your plan can help you decide if separation is a practical option for you.
  • Filing joint taxes. For some people, the benefits of filing jointly make separation a very attractive option. But beware: Joint-filing tax benefits aren't guaranteed. You should check with an accountant and/or tax attorney to determine if you can file jointly if legally separated.

Regardless of whether you opt for legal separation or divorce, you should consult with an experienced Phoenix divorce attorney to help give you a full picture of the pros and cons of prolonged legal separation in your particular situation.

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