Using A Legal Separation Agreement To Protect Your Finances

Going through a divorce can impact your life in many ways, but the financial consequences of this life-altering event can linger for years if steps are not taken to protect your interests. A legal separation could help you and your children ease the transition into divorce and protect your financial present and future as well. To find out how a legal separation agreement could help you, read on.

Get it in writing. To be valid and legal, a separation agreement must be filed with the court. Your family law attorney will work with you to prepare a document that covers all vital aspects of your transition period, such as child custody and support, visitation, and spousal support. Additionally, a complete listing of all marital debt is imperative. Your divorce may not be final for several months, and without an accounting of your spouse's debt, you could be responsible for additional debt acquired during the period leading up to the divorce.

Have uninterrupted healthcare coverage. Depending upon the particular rules of the policy, you may be able to stay on your spouse's healthcare plan until your divorce is final. You will eventually need to find your own policy, but knowing that you and your children are covered lends peace of mind at a stressful time.

Ensure you are eligible to receive your spouse's Social Security benefits. If you have been married for at least 10 years, you will automatically be entitled to draw one-half of your former spouse's Social Security retirement benefit, beginning at age 62. If you are a few months short of 10 years, staying married, but separated, could entitle you to a more secure retirement. You will be able to draw this benefit even if your ex-spouse remarries, but you will ineligible if you remarry.

Save on your income taxes. Using the married filing jointly status can often place you in a better tax situation than filing as single person. Make sure you check with a tax expert about the specific guidelines in your state about how marriage is defined, since some states consider you single as soon as you file a separation agreement.

Take advantage of military benefits. You may be able to extend your military privileges, such as commissary and post exchange use, healthcare benefits, childcare benefits, use of recreation facilities and more. Make good use of this time to prepare yourself for the added expenses of civilian life.

Beyond the above financial benefits of a formal separation agreement, you will find that the transition between married and single life will go far smoother with child support and debt issues set out in a legally-binding document. Consult with your family lawyer about separation agreements, and help ensure a better financial future for you and your children.