Financial Implications of Legal Separation vs. Divorce

One noticeable trend in family law over the past several years has been the tendency of couples to remain legally separated for long periods of time without actually getting divorced. In many situations, they make the decision to do this because of financial concerns.

The following are some of the common reasons why individuals or couples take this route and avoid or delay an actual divorce:

  • Social Security benefits: When you turn 62, you may be able to receive half of the amount of your spouse’s entitled Social Security benefits, even if you’re divorced. However, the length of your marriage must exceed 10 years for this to happen. As a result, some couples stay legally separated until this 10-year period expires.
  • Health insurance: If one spouse has a great health insurance plan through his or her employer, the other spouse may wish to stay legally married to remain on that plan. Legally separating may allow you to keep the benefits, although you’ll want to check the specifics of the insurance coverage.
  • Tax benefits: Married couples enjoy a number of tax benefits not afforded to single people. For this reason, remaining legally married could benefit both partners equally.
  • Pooling of resources: This is often an issue when there are children involved. Parents may choose to keep their marriage legally intact if it makes more sense to pool their resources rather than divide them in half, which can be much less efficient.

These are just a few of the reasons why some couples choose to seek a legal separation over a divorce, at least for a certain period of time. In case you think that getting a legal separation is easier than getting a divorce, according to CT law, the legal process for a judgment of legal separation is identical to the process for dissolution of marriage (C.G.S. §46b-40 et seq.). If you have further questions about which option is right for you, speak with a trusted divorce and legal separation attorney with Siegel, Reilly & Kaufman, LLC, based in Stamford.