13 Sep 3 Tips on Managing Separation and Spousal Maintenance
When your relationship implodes, you are faced with decisions: If you want to repair your marriage, you can file for a legal separation while you and your partner try to patch things up. A separation can also provide a time buffer that allows you to accept that your marriage is over, and move ahead with divorce proceedings.
Filing for a legal separation often includes finding a new place to live. If you have children, however, providing a stable home for them is the top priority. These three tips on managing separation and spousal maintenance should help you get through the process.
When you file for a legal separation, the best interests of your children will take top priority for you and for the court. Ensuring the kids have a stable home and their needs are taken care of through a separation is vital. Doing so requires you to maintain a civil, businesslike coparenting relationship, even as you begin to build separate lives.
One of the greatest fears divorcing spouses harbor is that their partner will damage them financially, draining their accounts and leaving them with nothing. A legal separation gives you the chance to establish a separate financial identity.
Open your own checking and credit accounts, and close joint credit card accounts—be civil about it and tell your spouse in advance they should open their own individual accounts as well.
Consult an attorney for advice on separating assets and what may or may not be community vs. separate property. If you have your own source of income, you usually can take your separate pay and financial assets and place them in a separate account. Remember, bills, joint obligations and mortgage payments must still be paid until a division of assets has been determined by the court
An award of spousal support during legal separation is based on the partners’ needs and abilities to pay. It is not automatic—you must file a formal request with the court, documenting why you need spousal support during a separation.
Get Tax Advice
You still must pay your taxes. Seek advice about which tax filing status will be most beneficial for you. Legally separated people may be able to file as “single.” If there are dependents and the filer is paying for half or more of the expenses of maintaining a home, they have the “head of household” status. Ask a financial or tax advisor to guide you.
Do Not Abandon Property
Until a court makes a final decision of how community property will be divided between you, do not give up your interest in it. Remain in the marital home if possible, and do not remove items that could endangergender disputes about whether they are separate or community property.
Separation is painful, but it does not have to be contentious. If you keep these tips for managing separation and spousal maintenance in mind, you should be able to get through it with your dignity intact. Contact a spousal support attorney at LaCoste Family Law for help establishing a legal separation in Washington state.