GREENVILLE, South Carolina. Many couples choose to get separated to see whether some time apart can ultimately heal the marriage. However, if you are planning to live apart, it is important to protect yourself legally. According to the Law Offices of Linda C. Hayes, a divorce lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina, there is no “legal separation” in South Carolina. Couples who are choosing to get separated can resolve their financial questions, questions about division of property, child support, and child custody through an “Order of Separate Support and Maintenance.” However, this is a legal process in itself and must be handled with care. The decisions you make during your separation can impact you should you later choose to get divorced. Furthermore, failing to take legal measures to protect yourself during your separation can make you vulnerable financially. According to Forbes, individuals getting separated should ask themselves questions similar to those individuals ask during their divorce.
What should individuals consider doing? For one, review your finances before separating and consider how you’ll pay for debts, your mortgage, rent, or other obligations. Individuals should close joint credit cards and get individual credit cards to avoid one spouse running up a high debt. Until you are divorced, any debt your spouse takes on will be your legal responsibility should you choose to get divorced.
Not all separations end in divorce, yet even if your marriage can be saved, it is wise to take precautions. One writer for Salon explained that she and her partner drew up a “nesting agreement” whereby the children remained in the marital home, while the husband traveled for work and the woman rented an apartment where she could work on her writing. The process resulted in the marriage being saved. Sometimes the time apart can heal the rifts that have formed.
Every separation agreement will be different and will depend largely on your unique circumstances. If you own a home, for example, you’ll have to consider who will remain in the home and how the mortgage payments will be handled. If you have children, you’ll have to make decisions about child custody and visitation during your separation. If you have debts, you’ll have to make decisions about who is responsible for them. Finally, if one partner works while the other stays home with the children, questions of maintenance may have to be raised.
Separation raises some of the complex issues and concerns raised during divorce. If you are considering getting separated, you should consider how you’ll handle debts accumulated during the separation, how child support and spousal support will be arranged, and how insurance needs will be handled. You may choose to divide marital assets during the separation or may simply draw up a legal agreement about how assets will be managed should you divorce. If you have questions about how to manage the legal and financial questions that separation raises, consider speaking to the qualified family lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina at The Law Offices of Linda C. Hayes.