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From The Experts

We've gathered knowledgeable, dedicated divorce experts from a variety of fields to lend their advice and perspectives. Our experts include lawyers, healthcare professionals, certified professionals, and everyday women with insight into the topics that will help you stay empowered.

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Do you need a break from marital conflict, but you’re not ready to take the next step for divorce? If so, legal separation will give you the break you need, and protection while you take time away to figure out your next step.

During a legal separation, a couple will negotiate a temporary agreement and file it with the courts. This means that during the time you are living apart such issues as child custody, spousal support, visitation and the division of marital assets and debts are legally protected.

Be aware though that whatever you agree to during a legal separation may set a precedence that will carry over should you and your husband eventually decide to divorce. You should be as concerned with your long-term needs when negotiating a legal separation agreement as you would be if you were negotiating a divorce settlement agreement.

Below are a few advantages of a legal separation or why a woman may choose a legal separation over a divorce.

• A legal separation will protect you financially because any assets or debts acquired during a legal separation may be considered separate property. This is especially important in states where couples are required to live apart of a period before filing for divorce.

• There are social security benefits available to a wife who has been married 10 years or more. If you have been a stay-at-home mom, and haven’t paid into much social security, remaining married until you meet that 10 year requirement should be a consideration when deciding whether to continue in your marriage.

• In military divorce, the Uniform Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act (USFSPA) recognizes the right of state courts to distribute military retired pay to an ex-wife of a military member and provides a method of enforcing these orders through the Department of Defense. Waiting until you have been married at least 10 years increases you chance of gaining a portion of your military spouse’s retirement and other military benefits.

• If you have religious beliefs that make it impossible for you to divorce, a legal separation allows you to retain your marital status and gets you out of an unhappy, conflict-filled marriage.

• Most married couples reap benefits at tax time. This is an important reason for continuing a marriage but choosing to live apart.

• In some instances a wife will retain health insurance benefits during a legal separation. It pays to consider your health care needs when wrestling with the decision to divorce or separate.

• Most importantly, a legal separation gives you time away from the marriage — time you can take to decide if you truly want a divorce.

I know I touched on this earlier but, it bares repeating: if legal separation is the answer for you, treat your separation agreement the same way you would a divorce settlement agreement and don't let your emotions get in the way of your settlement. Hire an attorney to advise you about your legal rights and don’t agree to anything without considering what it means to your financial security down the road.


Related Content:

The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce

Legal Separation or Trial Separation? — 9 Key Issues to Consider

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  • Comment Link Alberto Monday, 07 December 2015 01:23 posted by Alberto

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  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 09 April 2013 13:17 posted by Guest

    I think men should man-up if there want to leave there wife, stop the cheating, and man playing games and stop all emotional abuse. If you want to leave your family tell your spouse you're tired of being marriage you want a divorce. It goes for women to

  • Comment Link Guest Wednesday, 30 January 2013 21:46 posted by Guest

    Do I have rights? If my husband bought home 6 months before we g: My husband bought our house 6 months before we got married.I have 4 children my husband 2 children and together we have 1. All living in this house. We have been fighting for months now and He wants a legal seperation. Well being that I don't work do me and my children get to stay in house. I have no money or place to go. My family lives in a whole other state 9 hours from here. His are right here. I wouldn't have a place to go can't leave state if there's a legal seperation. Couldn't I stay until I could get enough money to survive with my kids

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 11 December 2012 10:57 posted by Guest

    I feel the same, Mr. Guest. Your a good man,same happening to me right now.

  • Comment Link Guest Friday, 26 October 2012 02:33 posted by Guest

    I thought marriage was forever: A little over a year ago my nightmare began. I switched to the grave shift hoping to earn a promotion. My overconfidence led me to make the decision without discussing the matter with my wife. The opposing schedules of my two little girls and wife caused a great deal of strain on our family and created a gap of mistrust and resentment in my marriage. After a few months I received two devastating emails from my wife. The first covering numerous ways in which I was selfish and need to do more around the house. My response was to pay better attention to my wife and hire a maid to clean the house and assist me with laundry. Everything was looking back to normal when my wife began growing frustrated with our income and my lack of support with the girls. I dedicated more time to taking care of our girls and put in a steady 60 hr work week. Again life was good and my wife and I managed to go out a couple a nights a month. The stress of finding places to take the girls while daddy slept became too much and my wife started running errands while I stayed awake taking care of the girls and a small amount of housework. Soon I received the second email which left me in tears. My wife explained she felt undesirable, alone, drowning, suspicious of drug use or infidelity and an utter lack of commitment to our family. Along with this news came a list of expectations outlining what she needed from a man/husband. I strongly replied that I was ashamed of how awful I had made her feel and it was time for me to invoke a change in my dedication as a husband and father. Well that failed, just like every other time I tried to fix myself, and after I lost my job my wife went cold. I asked if she was still willing to work so I could finish school and take care the children. She looked at me in disgust and asked, "If I go to work, what will I need you for." I felt my stomach twist and my heart tighten when I realized my love wasn't enough and I dove head first into depression. I lost the ability to sleep she felt guilty if I ate and to make thinhgs worse I purchased 5k in toys and completely rebuilt my truck. I used $2,000 cash to help pay bills by pretending to go to work and come home cash in hand. Nothing changed except now the wife felt it was her right to go out to the bar with another girl friend and have a few cocktails. Things rapidly got worse and today she has been living at her parents for 2-3 weeks. She told me she is divorcing me and that either I packed my sh#t and left or she was taking the girls with her to her parents house. My youngest stayed with me stating it want fair for daddy to be alone. Slowly my time with the girls decreased because mom had other things to do, and it got to a point where sure would show up and demand the girls while grabbing them and closing the door. I've taken her keys and garage opener and called the police twice, and have managed to achieve every other day with the girls staying the night at grandmas and then with dad. I have not received any court orders or divorce/separation papers and my wife took out a number of student loans to return to school and pursue a masters in speech pathology. She doesnt tell me if she is planning on working or if she has worked at all. She leaves her phone off all day and will not talk with me about what we are going to do. She repeats that it is my problem not hers and she absolutely can't stand being touched by me. She'll cringe and duck away from an accidental brush of hands. She says terrible things and threatens me that I am lucky she hasn't filed yet or she could take everything if she wanted. HELP ME! I truly love my wife and believe we can get through this with counseling and lots of time. I fear now I se the worst in my wife and have noticed she has done this over and over and every time I'm playing for forgiveness and she graciously takes me back so long as I fix myself. Is there any hope of reconciliation and will she ever love me...believe in me?

  • Comment Link Guest Wednesday, 17 October 2012 20:18 posted by Guest

    My rights: Hello my husband and I live apart for two yrs. We do not have a legal seperation and we have a child together. He has stopped my medical coverage. What can I do about this what are my rights. I live in Florida now and I have a new job but I can not afford the insurance payments.

  • Comment Link Guest Saturday, 06 October 2012 09:08 posted by Guest

    Thank you for your post.: Thank you for your post. Everything you said is nearly identical to my situation. I'm in the early stages of the separation (still waiting for court date), but beginning to feel my own sense of freedom as well. I was questioning if I made the right decision, which I have done for the past 3 weeks, but after reading your post, I now know it was the right thing to do.
    Thank you!

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 29 May 2012 22:23 posted by Guest

    Why are all these articles: Why are all these articles gear for women. Women can also be the cause of the marriage how is the husband protected in these scenarios. I pretty much do all the things in the house while my wife is out doing god knows what. How can I get legal separation, but still have the right to my daughter. I know my wife would like to have her which is what makes separation or divorce tough for me. If it wasn't for my daughter I probably would have left and to be honest wouldn't care about property. But for now my daughter is my most important part of my life. How can separation work? knowing who gets custody of my daughter during this time can be tough. And how are kids normally resolved during legal separation.

  • Comment Link Guest Friday, 02 September 2011 22:04 posted by Guest

    seperation: There are two children in the middle and my wife wants me to move out after I catch up on our bills. I am the only one working and approximately how much $ should I contribute for support of the children when take home weekly is $550?

  • Comment Link Guest Wednesday, 01 December 2010 21:40 posted by Guest

    It's a nice relief: I like being separated. It's a nice relief. I was married for 21 years, and I always deferred to my husband. With the separation, I am able to see clearly that I handed away a lot of my personal power during those years. Separation has given me the space to recognize that I like not having to answer to someone. I like making decisions, and not having them vetoed (which always embarrassed me). I like not being criticized. I like not feeling pressured to do or be something that doesn't feel right. I like living with my own values again. It's great to speak the truth again. If I make a mistake, it's MY mistake, and I'm free to admit it. I don't have to "cover" for someone anymore. My house stays tidier, things run more smoothly, debt collectors have stopped calling. I like realizing that I'm more than a mom and housewife. I feel more energetic. I like that I don't have to worry about whether he's secretly texting his girlfriend while he's sitting with me and the kids. I don't care anymore. He was never home, always away, always out of town, working, busy, or "having to get away". Now he has to give the kids his undivided time for 48 hours straight, every other weekend. He is more eager to please them. Good. They deserve attention from him, and I like having some free time to do what exactly what I like to do.

  • Comment Link Guest Saturday, 04 April 2009 18:20 posted by Guest

    what should she do?: I'm no expert but I think it is clear that he has NO RIGHT to kick her out AND he cannot send her anywhere. If he wants to end it, he should leave, unless of course she wants to go.

    I think she should see a lawyer or maybe a counselor and find out what her rights are and sort out what she wants to do.

    He cannot order her to leave with the children; that is just perverse.

  • Comment Link Guest Sunday, 01 February 2009 13:06 posted by Guest

    what should she do?: I am mother who is very worried about my daughter. She is married to a Marine. They did not argue but, he anounced that he no longer wants to be married to her and she should pack her bags and leave in 30 days. She does not know what to do she has three kids. He is sending her back to Illinois and by the way he has a girlfriend that he wants to be with. Is there some advice you can give her?

    He also stated to her that they should not go through the courts and do this legally.