I work with people all the time who have separated from their spouses, but have never actually finalized the separation with a divorce. While separation can be a positive step in the direction of saving a marriage, if it carries on too long it can wreak havoc on an inevitable divorce. Here are a few dangers that come with a separation that is never finalized with an official divorce:
Assets: While you are separated, you continue to be legally married. This means that everything you acquire during the separation is still subject to equal division by the court. That 401(k) that you are contributing to, the separate savings account where you have started to save extra money, the house you are paying for even though your spouse is no longer living there, and even the car you pay off during the separation. All of the growth in your assets is subject to division
If you are the financially responsible person in your marriage, then be aware that any debt your spouse racks up during the separation, you could end up being responsible for half! That means the plastic surgery she decides she must have, the credit cards he maxes out furnishing a new apartment, etc.
Sometimes a separation is sparked because of the infidelity of the female spouse. If she becomes pregnant during the separation, The law automatically makes that baby her husband’s, NOT her paramour’s. That means in the ultimate divorce, the husband who is not even the biological father could be on the hook for child support, medical bills, and all of the other expenses associated with carrying and delivering a baby. The biological father would have no responsibility for the child whatsoever.
I have stated many times in this newsletter that my office values marriage and family. If you need a short separation to fall back in love with your spouse and save your marriage, I’m all for it. But when that separation starts to look like a permanent thing, the best thing to do is file for divorce. This will help protect you from an irresponsible spouse who is clearly not working to save the marriage.
The attorneys at Ammon Nelson Law, PLLC are not new to these situations. We deal with people who finally get around to filing for divorce after a long separation all the time.
If you have been separated for way too long, and are ready to finalize your divorce, call us. We can outline all of your options and give you a plan of action to finalize your divorce.