7 Questions to Divorce or Legal Separation Decision
If you’re considering ending your marriage, there are generally two options available on Long Island, NY: legal separation or divorce. While divorce may be your first inclination, especially when you’re in the emotional first stages of deciding to end your marriage, staying legally married but separated has many advantages and may be in your best interests until you’re fully committed to divorce. Here are some questions you can ask to determine if legal separation could be a better choice for you.
#1. Do You Have Religious Attachments to the Idea of Divorce?
If you’re a religious person who has traditional views about divorce, it may be difficult for you to grapple with the idea of ending your marriage. Your family may not be as accepting of a divorce as they would be a legal separation, or you may intrinsically feel that divorce is “wrong”.
#2. Do You Want Time to Determine If a Divorce Is the Best Choice?
The dissolution of a marriage is an emotionally charged situation and it’s not always easy to think clearly when you’re struggling to keep your emotions in check. A legal separation can offer you time to test being apart from your spouse and give you the space you need to assess your circumstances and your next move with clarity.
#3. How Do You Feel About Formally Dissolving Your Marriage?
Some people were raised with negative connotations surrounding divorce. You may feel that formally getting a divorce is shameful, or that you’ve somehow failed at being able to make your marriage work. Legally separating instead of divorcing can help diffuse negative emotions and give you or your spouse time to accept and forgive.
#4. Are There Medical Benefits You Need to Retain?
A major benefit to remaining legally married is the retention of health insurance that a spouse provides, whereas divorce severs eligibility. If your spouse has excellent health insurance through their employer and losing those benefits would be detrimental to you, you and your ex may decide that separating is a better choice.
#5. Do You Have the Option to Receive Government Benefits If You Stay Married?
If you were married for at least 10 years prior to the death of your spouse, you may be eligible for Social Security and other government benefits. If this is the case, you don’t necessarily have to stay married, but you cannot re-marry to retain access to these benefits.
#6. Is Your Spouse In the Military?
If your spouse has served in the military, you may be able to retain access to certain benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSA), such as a portion of military retirement pay, exchange and commissary benefits, and medical care.
#7. Do You Want Your Spouse to Still Be Able to Make Decisions In an Emergency?
Consider the possibility that you become hospitalized or incapacitated in some way. If you don’t have a living will in place and are divorced, the hospital may make critical decisions regarding your medical care for you if you are unable to make them yourself. However, if you are still legally married and only separated, your ex-spouse will be contacted and asked to make those decisions. You and your ex can communicate to each other what you would want in such a scenario and agree to abide by those wishes should either of you be put in an emergency situation.
How a Long Island Divorce Lawyer Can Help with Your Legal Separation
If you think a legal separation may be a better choice for your family than a divorce to help you retain access to benefits or give you time and space to consider your options, reach out to an experienced lawyer for guidance. While legal separation tends to be less time-consuming and complex than a divorce, there’s still a great deal of legal red tape to be sorted through before the separation can be finalized.
At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we have the skills and experience needed to guide you through the Long Island legal separation process. We can help you better understand the differences between divorce and legal separation and how each is likely to impact your unique circumstances. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your available options at 631-923-1910.
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