I have discovered during several recent conversations, how little understanding there is about the process of divorce verses a legal separation and how your decision to file can impact your financial stability as well as future. If you live in a no-fault state, there is only one difference between a divorce and a legal separation. Both require that the possessions a couple has accumulated during the marriage be divided 50/50. All of the retirement accounts, bank accounts, assets, and debts are divided 50/50. In most family lawsuits, the person with the higher wage will pay spousal support, which can last from a few years to a lifetime, depending on how long the marriage lasted (10 years is considered a long term marriage). With a legal separation, the spouse can be held liable for any taxes not paid to the IRS. If you have a job with health insurance coverage, the spouse remains on your insurance and you can be liable for any unpaid medical bills. With a divorce, the process is the same except the marriage is legally dissolved which removes the liability for unpaid taxes. Health care coverage is terminated removing the financial liability for unpaid bills. Spousal support is a tax deduction for the payee and considered income for the recipient.
My ex-wife uses the semantics of legal separation verse divorce to inform all of our friends that I was the one who filed for divorce. In actuality, I responded to a lawsuit filed against me. From a financial liability stand point, I was painted into a corner by a lawsuit. The difficult question I had to answer, do I accept the financial liability and remain married to someone who walked out on a marriage? The choice to respond with a dissolution of the marriage was the lesser of two evils.
As I look back, I am in a better place. My life has moved on to a new chapter. I have been given a second opportunity to find someone who appreciates me for who I am and not what they want me to be. A second chance to experience falling in love. Life is good as I move forward in a new direction. I am thankful for those who have looked beyond the drama and remained my friends and supported me during this arduous process.