Traditionally, couples used trial separation as a way to decide whether or not to officially end their marriage. However, today, a growing number of couples are choosing to stay separated instead of filing for divorce, even though they don’t plan on reconciling their marital differences. The reason that couples are choosing this option is for the possible financial benefits of staying legally separated as opposed to being divorced.
Social Security benefits
If the couple remained married for at least 10 years, a divorced spouse who hasn’t remarried by the age of 62 can qualify for Social Security benefits equal to either his or her own work record or 50 percent of the ex-spouse’s benefit entitlement. This provides separated couples an incentive to remain married until they reach that 10-year mark and qualify for additional Social Security benefit options.
Health insurance benefits
Once a couple files for divorce, an ex-spouse is no longer included in the other person’s health plan. Choosing to separate as opposed to file for divorce can often solve this problem, however couples need to check the fine print of the benefit package to determine whether or not they can still receive the coverage. Some employers consider legal separation the same as divorce and deny benefits once a couple legally separates.
Some couples choose to remain separated in order to save money by filing joint tax returns. In addition, separated couples may be able to preserve the marital deduction on their taxes for estate-planning implications. However, federal tax law is very complex and the IRS usually follows state laws for assessing marital status. For this reason, couples need to be certain that they can still file jointly in their state by remaining legally separated.
The best way to determine whether or not it’s in your best financial interests to file for divorce or remain legally separated is by consulting with a New Jersey divorce lawyer . The Law Firm of Walter K. Schreyer is dedicated to providing the personal attention your case needs and deserves. Call (201) 383-4256 to schedule a free initial consultation.