Divorce vs. Separation

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Thursday, November 21, 2013.

I often meet clients who want to divorce after already being separated. Sometimes their separation is very recent, maybe after a big fight. Other times though, their separation has been going on for months – sometimes even years. Is a long term separation a good thing?

As Forbes magazine reports, sometimes the ease of a long term separation hides some real dangers. This Forbes article identifies a few problems I think everyone should consider:

1. Less Control of Assets. If you are separated, you could be out of the loop financially, and not know what the other spouse is earning, spending, investing, selling or buying.

2. Opportunity to Hide Assets. Many times one spouse uses separation periods to make assets disappear and increase debt.

3. Changed Circumstances. When we draft divorce agreements and orders we are usually trying to ‘present value’ assets and liabilities. In a long separation, people lose jobs, change jobs, become ill, retire and these changed circumstances could lower your expected alimony or support payment.

4. Relocation. Laws vary from state to state. Over times, as circumstances change, new job requirements and new relationships may mean that one of the spouses has to relocate to another state. Your simple divorce can morph into a major battle over the ability to relocate with your children.

5. Alimony Reform. Alimony change is in the air, and it is only a matter of time before alimony reform changes Florida Statutes. We dodged the bullet after the last legislative session. However, alimony reform seems more like a “when” question, rather than an “if” question.

It is easy to get into the rhythm of a long term separation. People don’t choose ‘separation limbo’, they fall into it because it is easier than confrontation. However, there are some good reasons to be cautious of long term separations.