Divorce and Separation: Which is Best for You?

The breakdown of a marriage and the subsequent legal processes can lead to a very challenging period indeed. At this point, divorce and separation are both options people consider — but what are the pros and cons of each? 

Although the divorce rate in the UK has dropped over the last five years or so, it’s safe to say many people are still untying the knot. When faced with the end of their marriage, people tend to assume divorce is the next step — which in many cases, it is. Going through a divorce is an emotional roller-coaster and brings a variety of sentiments, and so some people also consider separation, as it can prove to be more suitable for their situation.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of divorce and separation to help you establish which suits your needs the most. 

Legal Separation: Pros and Cons

Pros

No Division of Assets 

Married couples accumulate a vast range of assets during their relationship — all of which you need to divide if you get a divorce. With a legal separation, you and your partner draft a separation agreement, which details your obligations to one another. Because you will still be legally married, it gives you plenty of time to make critical financial decisions.

Flexibility

Separation also gives you more control and flexibility regarding how assets are divided. This financial flexibility can prove to be especially beneficial when dealing with and preventing much of the hostility that occurs during divorce — as money is often the most significant cause of distress. 

Tax Benefits 

Filing joint tax returns means you can claim two personal exemptions on the return, instead of one exemption permitted to a single individual. Also, the deduction granted on the return is highest for married people filing a shared tax return.

Cons

Vulnerability during Conflict

Conflict and hostility tend to be common during and after a breakup. A  separation agreement isn’t technically legally binding — therefore, you could be vulnerable to financial disputes and unexpected loss of assets.

Staying Financially Attached

Although you are no longer be in a relationship, you are still a married couple, which means you remain financially attached. If your spouse happens to have debt or makes late payments (for a mortgage or loan), you may be accountable to pay the fees.

Divorce: Pros and Cons

Pros

Financial Independence

If your spouse is irresponsible or untrustworthy when it comes to money, financial independence can be a considerable benefit moving forward. People who get a divorce are often shocked by how much money they manage to save now their (former) significant other isn’t compromising their finances with poor decisions, reckless behaviour and debt. 

Clean Break Order

A clean break order is an agreement a married couple finalise if they share no matrimonial assets. This agreement severs any financial tie the couple have to each other. By doing so, they prevent their spouse from claiming any wealth they acquired after the divorce.

Divorce Consent Order

A Divorce consent order is similar in purpose to a clean break order, but it has one crucial difference. This order details the marital assets you and your spouse share and how they are divided. The document is made legally binding by the court so your former spouse cannot pursue financial claims against you.

Cons

Losing a Percentage of Your Assets 

Losing half, or a similar percentage of your assets can be a severe financial blow. While some people can budget until they recover, for others, the financial impact of a divorce can be something that proves to be very difficult to bounce back from. 

Property Dispute

When it comes to marital assets, property tends to be the thing most fiercely contested because of its value and hassle of finding new accommodation. For some couples, this is a more straightforward process.  The property is sold, and the money split 50/50 to put towards a new home for each spouse. This is the ideal scenario for most people. But it’s more tricky when decisions about a property are contested, as this can be the catalyst for hostility and become an issue that requires a court’s decision.  

Lengthy Court Battles

Every divorce is different. In some cases, a couple can settle their differences and their financial affairs quickly and without too much hassle. But if you and your spouse fail to agree on the terms of the divorce, then your case will go to court. This process will not only take longer and create a more stressful environment, but it will also be a lot more expensive in the long run. You may well get the assets or particular asset you want, but you should prepare to spend more to get it.

Divorce and Separation: Which Should You Choose?

Unfortunately, that’s a question with a unique answer from case-to-case. Every marriage is different, with its own problems but also varying financial implications. It’s important to set off on the right path, and the long-lasting financial implications need to be considered. Hence, deciding between divorce and separation isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. From the pros and cons listed above, you can form a basic idea about which option could suit you best. But your first step should always be to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced family lawyer. Divorce and separation are not processes to rush. So take your time to shop around and find a divorce solicitor whose approach suits your needs and budget. 

Diana Simpson

Diana is a passionate journalist and a curious soul who is on the quest of finding what she loves the most; coffee, dogs, books or traveling? Born and bred in London, writing is her healing power.

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