What’s the Difference Between a Separate Maintenance Agreement and Divorce?
When two partners decide to end their relationship, there are several ways to go about it. The available options can vary depending on the legal status of the relationship. Two options for legally married couples include: a separate maintenance agreement or a divorce. They are quite different choices and which one is right for you will vary based on several factors. Here is more information about these two choices to help you make a decision.
What is a Separate Maintenance Agreement?
Separate maintenance is for couples who wish to separate, but not legally divorce. This allows for one spouse to continue to financially support the other during the separation. Each partner is then more comfortable to go and explore their individual lives without the worry of financial stress.
What is Divorce?
Divorce is the legal ending of a marriage. Often, couples have tried to work through issues in the relationship before agreeing to a divorce. Other times, there is a clear moment when at least one partner recognizes that there is no salvaging the relationship. In these cases, a divorce proceeding takes place that legally and permanently separates the couple.
So, What’s the Difference?
The main difference between these two choices is that separate maintenance does not legally end the relationship, whereas divorce does. A couple in separate maintenance may live apart, but according to the law they are still married and must continue to legally represent themselves as such. This applies to taxes, custody, and other financial arrangements such as mortgages or car loans that both partners are responsible for.
Another major consideration is that separate maintenance provides financial support. A divorce case may allow for this through alimony, but it is not a requirement of the agreement. With separate maintenance, the partners typically live apart, but continue to be legally married and share finances. With a divorce, finances are separated and the partners lead their own individual lives without consideration for the other.
Why Choose a Separate Maintenance Agreement Over Divorce?
There are many reasons to choose separate maintenance instead of divorce. The choice is entirely up to you and your partner. Here are a few examples.
- You want to separate for a while, perhaps to attend therapy or work on your issues alone, with the intention of getting back together after some time apart.
- You fear being able to be on your own, financially, without your spouse’s income.
- Your religious views prohibit you from getting a divorce.
- You want to continue receiving the benefits of married couples such as tax breaks and health insurance.
- You are not interested in marrying someone else in the future.
- At least one partner wants to live much farther away from the current home. For example, a move to another state.
Reach Out to Daniele Johnson & Associates for More Information
Making the choice to end a relationship is never an easy decision. If you are considering separate maintenance or divorce, please reach out to Daniele Johnson & Associates. We can provide you with more information about the two options and help you decide which might be right for you.