If you and your spouse are living separately, but are still married and without a legal separation agreement, this can spell trouble in the future. If this unofficial separation goes on for more than a year, but neither of you are moving toward a divorce or a reconciliation, then you should understand what this delay could mean down the road.
1) A prolonged and unofficial separation means that you cannot influence how your spouse is using marital assets. You are in the dark when it comes to your spouse's income and expenses. He or she could be digging themselves deep into debt—with your joint credit cards. As you cannot be sure of how your spouse is handling finances, this can make it all too easy for him or her to hide assets from you if divorce comes.
2) Also, if anything in their status changes, then you could similarly be left without the support you need. For instance, if your spouse gets laid off, contracts a medical condition, etc., then you would go without the maintenance (alimony) or child support that you really deserve and could have used earlier.
3) In your time apart, your spouse could also skip town. This could mean moving to a state where divorce laws are more to their liking (they only need 6 to 12 months to establish residency), or they could even leave the U.S., which would spell an even bigger legal nightmare. International divorces pose unique challenges.
4) One of you might start a new relationship. While this could be wonderful for you, the fact is that you are still married. The relationship might not reflect well in divorce proceedings. If your spouse is the one with someone new, then he or she could be spending your marital assets on that person, paying for lavish vacations and gifts.
5) Any maintenance you could have received might lessen if your standard of living diminishes. If you are on your own, then you may not be able to live like you used to. When a judge determines maintenance, one of the factors involved is your standard of living during marriage. If your separation and decreased living standard have lasted for years, then a judge may base maintenance calculations off of the lesser standard, leaving you with less than you need.
6) While you are still in a legal marriage, regardless of where you both live, your spouse's financial troubles could be yours too. For instance, what if your spouse is sued or audited? This can harm your joint accounts.
7) If you do not have a legal separation, then this could be a costly break in communication. That is, you cannot be without an agreement that spells out how finances will work and who gets what. If you lack this vital settlement, then you could be feeling the long-term consequences.
8) You may need to move on. You may no longer consider yourself married, but actually obtaining the divorce can be wonderfully freeing. It could be time to officially start the next chapter of your life.
Then again, it may not be. Perhaps what you need to do is make your separation legal, protecting yourself financially while you two continue to decide where your relationship is heading. Whether you need the legal benefits of a separation or a divorce, you can find the help you need with a Long Island divorce attorney at our firm. You can have the passion and expertise you deserve on your side; find out we can help you when you contact the Meyers Law Group, P.C.