Protect Yourself During Legal Separation

If you and your spouse have decided on a legal separation, it’s important that you have an attorney draw up a legal separation agreement. This document will be legal and binding, while also offering you some form of legal protection if your spouse fails to live up to his or her obligations. This document will also hold in court, should you be forced to go to court.

What Should be Contained in the Legal Separation Agreement

Spousal Support – If you are paying spousal support to your spouse the payments can be deducted at tax time – but only if they are listed under the agreement. If there is no legal agreement, this money cannot be deducted.

Benefits – With legal separation can retain certain benefits that were available during the marriage, such as health insurance. This is something that should be included in the agreement.

Home – If you and your spouse own a home together, you’ll want to outline who will pay for the home, as well as the maintenance of the home, such as utilities and lawn care. You’ll also want to outline who is able to live in the home.

Joint Accounts – Most couples share joint checking, savings, and credit accounts. A legal separation agreement will outline who has access to those joint accounts. It might also stipulate that the joint bank accounts be closed, thus forcing each spouse to obtain their own personal accounts. It might also outline who needs to pay what on those joint credit accounts.

Protection from Acquired Debt – A legal separation agreement will also shield you from being responsible for debt that is acquired during your separation. This will vary by state, so be sure to work with an attorney when drafting this agreement, as they will be able to advise you on your legal rights.

Source: About, The Financial Benefits of a Legal Separation Agreement, 2014

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