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Visit us at www.DivorceAndYourMoney.com Divorce and Your Money is your guide to avoiding costly mistakes during divorce. Shawn Leamon, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and MBA, wants to help you learn the fundamentals of how to get a divorce. Whether you are looking for an uncontested divorce, a do it yourself divorce, or an online divorce, resources are available to offer guidance. Through his divorce podcast and divorce blog, Shawn offers his professional opinion on the best ways to handle the end of your marriage. He covers topics including how to file for divorce, divorcing a narcissist, and finding the best divorce attorney. Even tricky subjects such as a “what is a QDRO?” and “is alimony taxable?” are tackled through these venues. If you need to know what the first steps are or what you should do to head to trial during litigation, you can find resources to give you a step-by-step guide to what comes next. Think of his advice as an alternative to divorce support groups where you can find exactly what you need when you need it. He offers one-on-one divorce coaching to give you a solid grasp on the decisions that are bound to affect your financial future. Before you have a divorce decree in hand, you will likely go through some type of divorce mediation. For any spouse saying, “I want a divorce,” you need to make sure that you are getting the financial future you are entitled to. Do not allow yourself to be blinded by the emotional, legal, and financial burden that divorce can become. Instead, take control of your situation with sage wisdom to help all individuals make better financial decisions for their independent future. If you find yourself asking “where are the best divorce lawyers near me?”, Shawn can help you to recognize the best of the best. Whether you need a divorce in Texas, a divorce in Florida, or a divorce in New York, you will have all the knowledge you need to find the best team of professionals to assist you. You can start from a place of being legally separated or once you have already started to file for divorce using free divorce papers or an attorney. No matter where you or your marriage may be in the process, Shawn Leamon has professional advice to offer your unique situation. A simple no fault divorce or a high-stakes power struggle are all areas he has vast experience with during his work outside of Divorce and Your Money. Let his advice be a guide to help you get all that you need for a secure financial future in your divorce records. It will not make a difference whether you are getting a divorce in Ohio or a divorce in California if you are following the basic principles set out through Divorce and Your Money’s divorce blog, divorce podcast, and divorce coaching.
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Jun 9, 2017

This was originally published on Divorce and Your Money here.

What is informal separation?

Informal separation occurs when you and your spouse live apart, but do not pursue formal separation or divorce. Informal separation could be thought of as a trial separation. In other words, you and your spouse are testing what it might be like to live apart. Sometimes, informal separation allows space for you to repair your marriage, while at other times, it may lead to a permanent separation or divorce. Many times, informal separation has a set amount of time, such as six months.

Understand Your Local Laws

If your informal separation leads to a divorce, the separation period may have an important impact on it. The separation date can influence the way property is divided, the calculations of spousal and child support, and other issues related to the divorce. However, all states do not recognize separation dates. If there are major changes to your life outside of the separation (e.g., your spouse receives a bonus at work, or you lose your job), it could impact your final divorce settlement.

Sometimes You Just Need Space

Divorce is permanent. It is a big step. If you are not ready to face the dreaded D word (and everything that comes with it), informal separation may be a way to give you and your spouse some breathing room. Then you can figure out the next phase of your relationship.

Separation is not a copout, and it is not “divorce light.” Just because you choose to separate, that does not mean that you are delaying the inevitable. Your separation may provide the time and space you need to start improving a broken relationship. It is not easy, but for some, it better allows the possibility of getting back together. In fact, according to a marriage therapist in the Wall Street Journal, some couples have a 50% chance of getting back together.

There are some substantial considerations. For instance, what you are you going to tell your family and friends? Is dating allowed during the trial separation? Are you allowed to communicate and talk with your spouse outside of therapy or essential conversations? While there are many considerations, it can be very valuable to take the time to reflect on these issues.

Consider an Informal Separation Agreement

When getting informally separated, it may be wise for you and your spouse to sign an informal separation agreement. This document would help outline your specific expectations while living apart (e.g., bills, spousal support, basic custody arrangements, and other key details). You may also want to consult a family law attorney to help draft an informal separation agreement.

The biggest risk is that the informal separation agreement will turn into a formal separation agreement. In other words, the details you negotiate today are used to determine the relevant support if you pursue a formal divorce. For example, if you share custody during an informal separation period, it will be difficult later to convince a judge that you deserve sole custody of the children.

That said, an informal separation agreement can help protect you by ensuring that the relevant expenses are paid, particularly if you do not have substantial income. Then you can continue living your life, at least to some degree.

Keep Important Benefits

There are many legal and practical benefits to remaining legally married, as opposed to being legally separated. Through separation, you can maintain your health insurance benefits, file joint taxes, and keep other marriage-related benefits. Furthermore, if your religion frowns upon divorce, informal separation could become a permanent solution without having an official divorce.

Final Thoughts

Informal separation can serve as an important glimpse into what divorce could be like. It could show you that life on your own is not what you really want, and it may serve to mend the marriage. On the other hand, if things are really broken, an informal separation may show you that it is time for a divorce.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

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