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Long-term separations and divorce

While separating can sometimes be easier emotionally for a couple in New Mexico and elsewhere than getting a divorce, it may have several drawbacks. For example, extended separations can result in individuals eventually getting a divorce after alimony laws have changed to their detriment. Alimony reform has been gaining ground in many state legislatures throughout the country, so waiting may preclude a person from receiving the same benefits that they would have been received had divorce been filed for immediately.

Employment or similar circumstances of a spouse may change during a separation, causing the eventual divorce settlement to be impacted. If a spouse's situation changes due to illness, disability or job loss, alimony payments required to be made by that spouse may be lower than would have been the case with an earlier filing.

Spouses in a long-term separation will often have no idea how the other spouse is managing marital assets. One spouse will likely not know how much money the other is earning, how he or she is investing or whether he or she is hiding or selling assets. Separated spouses are still legally married, giving rise to potential joint liability for debts that one spouse does not even know about.

A person contemplating a separation in anticipation of obtaining a divorce may wish to speak with an attorney who has experience in handling divorce matters. The attorney may be able to negotiate and prepare an agreement which will govern the financial activities of each spouse during the period of separation, and may be able to use those negotiations as a foundation upon which to base property division and spousal support arrangements in the event of a future divorce.

Source: Forbes, "Putting Off Divorce? Ten Ways Long-term Separations Can Do Women More Harm Than Good", Jeff Landers, October 03, 2013

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