Virginia couples who are having difficulty with their marriages may choose to separate and physically live in different locations. This action might allow tempers to cool and lead to reconciliation, or it could be a prelude to divorce. Either way, a separation requires consideration of the legal consequences, which could be costly. A divorce financial adviser recommends that estranged spouses prepare a formal separation agreement to protect their finances that the law still considers entwined by marriage.
Debts that arise during the separation must be covered by the agreement. A spouse could be held responsible for payment of debts produced by the other spouse while still legally married. Closing joint credit card accounts represents a prudent step.
The agreement needs to detail how each spouse will have access to liquid assets to pay living expenses during the separation. Child or spousal support might need to be established as well depending on the situation. Most people will need to find a way to divide costs for health insurance. The agreement could also define the treatment of retirement accounts and inheritance.
When someone wants more information about separation prior to the end of a marriage, a family law attorney could provide insights. Legal advice might reveal that a separation prior to an actual divorce could allow the client to reach legal milestones important to limiting taxes or receiving Social Security or military benefits. The attorney could also explain how the law might guide property division and the calculation of child support during a divorce.