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Long separations before a divorce

North Carolina residents whose marriages are breaking up may want to consider the implications that an extended separation before divorce can pose for spouses. Putting off the divorce and living in the limbo of separation may result in lower marital assets or spousal support, but this can usually be avoided with a legally binding agreement.

Some advisers caution against a couple staying married if they plan on separating for a year or more. This can lead to various problems for a spouse when there is no formal legal agreement. For instance, if the couple is separated there is no control over how the other spouse is managing marital assets. Depending on how debts are divided at divorce, the spouse could be incurring debts that both spouses will be liable for. The assets could be spent or hidden during the separation, leaving less for division or spousal support after divorce.

Along with the problem of assets disappearing comes with the issue of the spouse disappearing, as well. The spouse could move to a different state with different alimony laws, or could leave the country, causing more legal trouble. In the intervening time between separation and divorce, either spouse's standard of living could change. This could potentially decrease the amount of alimony or spousal support available after divorce. A legal separation agreement between spouses before the divorce may help to avoid these problems.

Navigating the various divorce legal issues while avoiding an overly long separation can be difficult without assistance. An attorney who has experience in family law may be able to help in the negotiation and preparation of agreements that deal with property division and spousal support matters.

Source: Forbes, "Putting Off Divorce? Ten Ways Long-term Separations Can Do Women More Harm Than Good", Jeff Landers, October 03, 2013

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