If you've found yourself struggling with your marriage and considering divorce, one of the things you should discuss with your divorce lawyer during your initial consultation is the benefit of a legal separation before your divorce. In some cases, it's actually in your best interest to file for a legal separation and file for divorce later. Understanding what situations might warrant legal separation first is a good place to start. Here's a look at what your divorce lawyer will want you to know.
Do You Meet The Residency Requirements For Divorce?
Every state has its own residency requirements before you can file for divorce. Your divorce lawyer will be able to tell you what the residency requirement is where you live, and whether or not there's a requirement in the county you live in, too. This is an important consideration because couples that recently moved or those who moved as part of the relationship ending might end up in a position where their residency clock has started over, whether by crossing state or county lines. Make sure you understand how your situation applies in regards to the residency requirements and consider a legal separation for a while if you need it.
Are Both Parties Amenable To The Divorce?
If you've just recently separated your household, you might have come to terms with the end of the relationship far sooner than your spouse. In those situations, you may find that your spouse isn't ready to think about divorce yet. If you're looking for a legally binding alternative that at least shows your personal intention to live apart from your spouse, you might want to consider a legal separation first. This could help you to encourage your spouse to move forward and accept the divorce.
Are You Close To The Cut-Off For Ten-Year Benefits?
If you and your spouse are nearing your tenth anniversary, you might decide that a legal separation is a better alternative to divorce for a little while. When you've been married ten years, you earn the right to draw on your spouse's Social Security benefits when he or she retires. In situations where you're nearing that ten-year anniversary, you might want to consider a legal separation that establishes your separate living arrangements, division of assets, and even spousal support if applicable. This gives you the time to hit that milestone before you file the papers for a formal divorce.
Talk with your divorce attorney today about any other situations where a legal separation might be the better place to start.