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Separating? Watch out for these potential issues

If you're putting off getting a divorce, something that you might be considering is a separation. Separations can be great in some ways, but there are also some harmful side effects.

When you think about a separation, you probably think of a few months where a couple lives apart to think about if they want to stay together. They may go on dates again or try to rekindle by giving each other space. On the other hand, some separations are used with the intention of later divorcing. For example, if you need to separate for 120 days before you divorce, you may move out and begin dividing your property long before you file your divorce paperwork.

Separations can have downsides that you need to understand, though. If you are not separating with a solid intention to divorce and don't fully separate your assets, like bank accounts or credit cards, remember that you:

  • Will not have control over how your spouse manages your assets
  • May be giving your spouse longer to hide assets before you officially file for divorce
  • Could end up having to deal with another state's divorce laws if your spouse decides to move across state lines
  • Will be left with financial issues if your spouse decides to take out debt on shared credit cards or mismanage the money in shared bank accounts

If you do want to separate, you may want to talk to your attorney about a legal separation and getting documentation to show the date that you and your spouse began living separately. That could be helpful, and offer some protection, if problems or questions about debt or assets come up later.

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