If you have decided to live separate and apart from your spouse because your marriage is not working, you may think that you are legally separated. This is not true. In the state of Kansas, there are legal steps you need to take in order to achieve this designation. While many couples just choose to move out and not incur this expense, a legal separation can produce many different benefits. Here are a few that you may need to consider.
1. Establishes a Legal Separation Date
It is important to know exactly when you and your spouse were no longer living together as a married couple. This can have huge financial implications at the time of your divorce, especially if the court will be assisting you with your equitable distribution.
By filing a legal separation, you reduce the amount of liability you may have for any newly incurred debts. This is because as long as you are legally married and not legally separated, any debt incurred is joint debt even if it is incurred by your spouse after you move out.
The same applies to assets you may purchase after you are no longer a couple. You will be able to show that these are personal assets and not marital property. A legal separation helps the court eliminate these assets during the distribution process.
2. Creates a Qualifying Life Event
If one of you have carried the other and the family on your insurance while you were married, this may change. Most employer plans require you to have a qualifying life event to add coverage outside of open enrollment.
Losing your coverage from the other plan will create a qualifying event, but if you wait until this happens, you run the risk of having a lapse in coverage. You can incorporate a time frame into your legal separation that your spouse must attain coverage.
The legal separation will also serve as a qualifying life event. Incorporating this into the separation agreement will allow you to give them more time to attain coverage without them having a lapse in coverage.
3. Creates Framework for the Divorce Decree
When you file for legal separation, you will address many issues during your divorce. You can address the following:
- Property Ownership
- Debt Division
- Tax Issues
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Alimony and more
If the court finds that the separation agreement that you already have in place is valid, fair, and addresses necessary concerns, they will incorporate this into your divorce decree.
By establishing this framework upfront, it will give you and your soon-to-be-ex an opportunity see which components of your agreement work and which ones do not. By making the necessary changes up front, you can reduce the number of issues that need to be addressed by the court.
This can ensure that you address all of the necessary issues in a way that you and your spouse see fit. This can make your divorce proceedings go much quicker and be less adversarial.
4. Allows You to Begin a New Relationship
Kansas recognizes both fault-based and no-fault grounds for divorce. With marital misconduct being one of the grounds that your ex could possibly file for, you need to ensure that your actions are not viewed as such.
If you begin a new relationship after you file for legal separation, the court will not view this abandonment or adultery. This will keep you from being the guilty spouse in the court's eyes. Being viewed as such could impact any support you are ordered to pay.
Coffman, DeFries and Nothern, PA can help you draw up your legal separation and subsequent divorce papers. We are available to answer any questions you may have pertaining to either process. Give us a call today.