Kevin Qualls Family Law
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Why California residents shouldn't put off divorce

It is not uncommon for individuals in rocky marriages to choose to legally separate, because it gives a couple time to determine if they want to reconcile or file for divorce. However, when couples stay separated for an extended period of time and stay in marriage limbo, it can be financially and emotionally taxing. By not getting a divorce after months or years of separation, people are putting themselves at risk for losing out on marital assets and child or spousal support.

When a couple is separated, there are still legal and financial ties. Since California is a community property state, if one individual goes deeply into debt, not only can creditors go after their spouse for payment, their spouse will also end up being responsible for the debt when they do finally divorce. Additionally, if someone is not living with their estranged spouse, there is no way for them to tell if their assets are being taken care of or handled responsibly.

In addition to the financial impact, there are also several emotional issues related to an extended separation. Even if a couple is reasonably amicable, communications can break down and make dealing with the other individual difficult or contentious. Further, once the divorce is finalized, many people who put off ending their marriage wish that they had filed for divorce sooner.

When someone decides to separate from their spouse, a lawyer could let them know what is involved in drafting a legal separation document to protect their rights. A lawyer could also help someone understand what would be involved in a divorce if they decide to file and help negotiate issues related to asset division and child custody on their behalf.

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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