Marriage is tough and every couple has different hurdles to overcome. Some may be known going into the marriage while others unexpectedly surface over time. Some couples are able to work through and move past them while others debate whether a divorce may be the only way to go.
Is it really that cut and dry, though? Stay married or get divorced? You also have the option of legal separation if you’re still on the fence when it comes to choosing how to move on with your life. There are advantages and disadvantages to divorce and separation. You need to take into account all of the information to make an informed decision that will affect your family.
Weighing the pros and cons of legal separation
A legal separation can be used as a temporary break from your marriage to give you each time to figure out what you want. Maybe you need to engage in couples counseling or you just need to focus on working through issues on your own, including how you feel about one another.
How you may benefit
- Financial responsibilities can be laid out in a formal separation agreement for clarity when bills come due each month.
- Joint debts can be divided on a temporary basis so that you can begin planning how to manage them in the future should you be permanently responsible for them.
- You have the option of continuing to file a joint tax return.
- Spousal support payments are tax deductible.
- Health insurance plans can remain in effect.
- If your spouse passes away, you still have a legal claim to a share of his or her estate.
Ways you may be harmed
- Valuable marital assets may be wasted, such as cars being sold, accounts being emptied, and valuables given away in an attempt to diminish or hide the marital estate.
- A vindictive spouse may continue to outspend your incomes racking up marital debt you’ll be partially responsible for.
- Any spousal support you provide will be considered a gift without any tax benefit.
- Inability to begin a new relationship or get remarried.
- If you pass away, your spouse can still legally inherit from you.
Considering the plusses and minuses of divorce
Some couples don’t need time to figure out whether they can or want to save their marriage, or they’ve already tried a legal separation and the end result is choosing to divorce. However you’ve reached the point of no return, there are considerations to take into account before moving full steam ahead.
Positive effects of divorce
- You may be guaranteed specific alimony and child support that will help you become more financially stable post-divorce.
- Your children will have a sense of finality that will help them move forward, as well.
- You may be able to work out an agreement to alternate which parent claims your children for tax purposes.
- You will each leave the marriage with a fair share of the marital property you accumulated together.
- Your mental, and possibly physical health will improve upon leaving a stressful relationship.
- If you have always been the financially responsible spouse, you will have more protection over your financial health once you divorce.
- Freedom to pursue a new relationship, or no relationship. You now have the choice.
Adjustments you’ll need to make
- While your children can remain on your spouse’s plan, you’ll need to secure alternate health insurance for yourself.
- If you have children, you will need to learn how to coparent in order to avoid future legal conflicts.
- Establishing a new permanent residence, which can be difficult depending upon which end you land on when it comes to paying or receiving alimony and/or child support.
- Taxes will be filed separately so you will lose certain annual tax advantages.
- Potential risk of deportation if you are not a U.S. Citizen at the time your divorce is finalized.
- If you come from a very religious background, you may have to work through the stigma of divorce in your extended family and place of worship.
Coming to terms with the fact that your marriage may be ending can already be scary and unsettling. It raises many questions that will require the proper guidance from a knowledgeable divorce attorney to answer.
Whether you choose to take the road leading to divorce, or you decide a legal separation is best before making a final decision, the caring legal team at the Knoxville family law attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter know the challenges you are struggling with and are here to help. To schedule your consultation with one of our trusted and compassionate legal professionals, we invite you to call our office at 865-637-6258, or to reach out to us through our contact page.