For some couples, legal separation, instead of divorce, just makes sense.
John Frost: An Example
John Frost and his wife were been unhappily married when his company relocated him from Virginia to Tennesse in 2000. After asking what would happen next, if she would follow him or would they divorce, they both realized that it just made sense for him to leave her behind. And, “After a few months,” Mr. Frost said, “we both realized we liked it this way.”
But what does that mean for them legally?
Technically, they are married. While they only see each other several times a year, they still file joint tax returns. She’s also still covered by his insurance. “Since separating we get along better than we ever have,” he said. “It’s kind of nice.” They also see no reason to file a formal divorce. His reasoning is why bring in a bunch of lawyers? And why create rancor when there’s no where to go but down? “To tie a bow around it would only make it uglier,” Mr. Frost said. “When people ask about my relationship status, I usually just say: ‘It’s complicated. I like my wife, I just can’t live with her.’ ”
Trial separation can often mean purgatory for some couples – a landing spot that couples quickly land on before turning to the most conclusive of decisions – divorce. But some couples decide to remain just there. “I see it all the time,” said Lynne Gold-Bikin, divorce lawyer in Norristown, Pa. A lot of times, the motivation to remain married is strictly financial, according to divorce lawyers and marriage therapists. And according to federal law, if a marriage lasts a decade, an ex can qualify for a portion of a spouse’s Social Security payment. For others, it comes down to medical insurance. Often times it’s hard to qualify for your own medical insurance, especially if a pre-existing condition exists. But in the end, some people just don’t want to go through divorce, and are content just living in “purgatory.”
Source: The New York Times, The Un-Divorced, July 30, 2010