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Here's why you should consider a legal separation

Are there benefits to seeking a legal separation instead of divorce? Yes. In fact, a legal separation doesn't actually end your marriage. Since you haven't ended your marriage, you can often stay on your spouse's health insurance and still keep other spousal benefits.

A legal separation works well as a precursor to divorce, especially if you feel you may continue your marriage. Although the separation does allow you to split your assets and to put together a separation agreement, you could choose to move back in together and still be married later.

A legal separation protects you in the meantime. The separation order determines child custody arrangements, child support, alimony if it's to be paid, and the division of your assets. It also separates you financially from your spouse, so if he or she adds to his or her debt, you won't be held accountable for it.

A legal separation is also a beneficial choice if you are waiting to meet the 10-year Social Security benefit requirement. After a marriage lasts 10 years, the divorced spouse who is not remarried by the age of 62 is entitled to Social Security benefits. Those benefits will be either on the person's work record or 50 percent of your spouse's work record, whichever is higher. So, if your spouse greatly out-earns you, then sticking together to meet this requirement may be beneficial to you.

Our website has more information on divorces and legal separations and what they can mean for your future. Making the right decision now can influences your finances later, so it's a good idea to look into all your legal options.

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