3 Situations In Which Legal Separation Might Be Financially Better Than Divorce

Law Blog

When married couples don't want to be together anymore, the move of choice is to file for a divorce. This, however, isn't the only option; you can also file for legal separation. In this case, you remain married (technically), but live apart. In fact, there are situations in which it may be financially beneficial to choose legal separation over divorce. Here are three examples of such situations:

If You Need Your Partner's Health Insurance Plan

If you divorce, then it is probable that you will lose your spouse's health coverage. This is usually the case with employer-based health insurance plans. This can be catastrophic if you are old and have pre-existing medical issues that make it difficult for you to get new coverage.

Separating from your spouse is one of the options that allows you to keep using your partner's health plan. Of course, this also depends on the terms and conditions listed in your spouse's policy. Confirm that this is possible before opting for legal separation, because some plans might just treat your separation as divorce.

If You Want To Qualify For Social Security Benefits

Legal separation may also be a smart option if you are keen on enjoying your spouse's social security benefits. For a spouse to enjoy these benefits after divorce, he or she has to meet certain eligibility requirements. One of these is that the marriage must have lasted at least ten years.

Therefore, if your marriage has lasted less than a decade, you cannot enjoy the benefits if your divorce immediately. Instead, you can legally separate for two years in order to meet the threshold, and then divorce.

If You Want To Enjoy Potential Tax Benefits

Lastly, you may also enjoy the tax benefits from filing joint taxes if you do not divorce, although it is not automatic. This is a tricky area because the federal government (which is responsible for tax laws) will not supersede state divorce or separation laws. The federal government will use your state laws to determine whether you are married or not.

Therefore, if your state does not recognize those who are legally separated as married, then the federal government will follow suit. In that case, you will not be able to make joint filings.

As you can see, there are certain benefits of legal separation over divorce, but they do not all apply to all states. Therefore, an in-depth consultation with an attorney like Christopher R Vanroden is necessary to help you unravel your state laws and determine which of these benefits you can enjoy.


18 May 2015