Jennifer Garner filed for divorce from her husband, actor Ben Affleck, almost two years ago, but has yet to officially end her marriage despite a long-term separation.
Affleck has reportedly even been staying in a spare bedroom on the family’s Los Angeles compound. A few weeks back, Us Weekly reported that the couple would keep on with their divorce despite rumors of a possible reconciliation.
The next day, though, E! News claimed that the couple has a “fluid” relationship and that “nothing has really changed” for the couple who has “been working on their relationship for the past few years” and remain in a long-term separation.
Not obtaining an official divorce decree, and having a long-term separation, seems like a good idea, but there are risks. I’ve written about the risks when people separate for years before filing for, or dissolving, their marriages.
Control Over Assets
If you are in a long-term separation, you can be totally out-of-the-loop about your financial well-being. You don’t know what your spouse is earning, spending, investing, selling or buying. In Equitable Distribution states, like Florida, you may be on the hook for some of the debts accumulating during the long-term separation.
While you may see no immediate need to legally dissolve your marriage, a long-term separation allows a spouse to plan for a divorce. And, spouses usually plan to make sure that valuable, or difficult to trace, assets are gone when the time comes to disclose your assets and liabilities.
Florida has laws governing all aspects of the divorce process, especially as they relate to children. During a long-term separation, your spouse could be transferred to another city, state, or even another country. You should know that the laws relating to divorce and interstate custody are not the same in every state.
Alimony Laws are Changing
For the last several years, the Florida Legislature has tried unsuccessfully to change our alimony laws. The Florida House and the Florida Senate have already introduced bills this year that would dramatically change alimony in Florida. During a long-term separation, alimony laws can change.
The new bills require use of factors to calculate alimony; provide presumptions concerning alimony awards based on the duration of marriages; provide for imputating income in certain circumstances; provide requirements related to taxing and deducting alimony; and prohibit courts from changing the duration of alimony award.
Meeting Someone New
While meeting someone new may make you happier and more fulfilled, it may not help your settlement negotiations. When spouses enter new relationships, they might spend your share of marital assets on their new love interest: buying gifts, going to expensive restaurants, and taking fancy vacations.
Whatever the reasons Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have had for putting off their divorce, there are pitfalls of a long separation you should be aware of.
The Vanity Fair article is here.