There are many good reasons to have a long-term separation, but it’s worth noting that there could be potential downsides when it comes to the financial elements of a divorce. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you plan ahead to protect yourself in case your separation from your spouse does lead to divorce.

If, for example, you believe your separation will last for a long period of time, you should have an open discussion with your spouse about how you will divide your debts. Because you are still married, you are still both responsible for your shared debts. You are also responsible for any debts your spouse incurs during the separation, so if that person decides to buy a new car, you still would be responsible for sharing payments on it after the divorce, even if the purchase was made without your consent. The vehicle in this situation would be considered community property.

A long-term separation also increases the ability of your spouse to conceal assets during the divorce process. Because you would have been out of the loop for a rather long period of time, you might not have a completely accurate picture of what assets your spouse holds, including retirement accounts and stock options.

Protect yourself when divorce seems imminent

Your best course of action is to speak with a family law attorney before you separate to establish a legal separation. This will give you a formal contract that can be enforced in court, and that will outline all the rules you and your spouse will need to follow during the separation, including those related to financial issues.

For more information on legal separation and the divorce process, contact a trusted La Plata attorney with Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.