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Is legal separation or divorce better?

If you're considering a divorce or legal separation due to money, you're likely wondering which one will be cheaper for you in the long run. Living separately before you get a divorce, which is what some call a trial separation, can help you decide if you really want to get a divorce. Some people decide to stay separated, and at that point, they can either decide to get a divorce or be legally separated. They may simply live apart and never get a divorce or legal separation at all.

Why would someone do that? Divorce is expensive. If you plan to live apart from your spouse for longer than a trial period, you may want to get a legal separation document that creates a binding agreement over issues like debt, your assets, alimony and other concerns.

While moving on may be your plan, the fact is that living separately doesn't make you separate from your spouse completely, at least when it comes to your home, property and legal relationship. You'll still be liable for debts accrued and could be held liable for other issues the spouse is involved in because of your marriage. With a legal separation document, you can address those concerns and even obtain indemnification, which limits your liability.

Sometimes, you'll be separated for a year or more before you divorce; you need to have this document to show who will get what from your marriage, who is responsible for debts and so on. Then, if you decide to get a divorce, you'll be ready to do so.

Source: Forbes, "Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially?," Jeff Landers, accessed Feb. 26, 2016

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