You can tell that your marriage is no longer what you wanted it to be. You and your spouse seem to argue about everything. Perhaps your spouse was unfaithful or admitted to wanting another relationship. Maybe you both seem to dread going home after work because you do not want to spend time together.
You decide that the best thing to do is to take a break. A separation can give you both some space. Then you can really think about what you want your life to be like and where you want it to go.
It’s not a divorce, not yet, but a sort of middle ground that some people see as a stepping stone to divorce and that others see as a way to save their marriage. You don’t know what it will be for you yet, but you still have a lot of questions.
First and foremost, you want to know where you stand financially. You do not get benefits at your part-time job — or perhaps you do not work at all. Your spouse does get great benefits, and they extend to you.
What you’re worried about is that you are going to lose all of those benefits during the separation, meaning you have to budget to buy things like medical insurance yourself at a time when you face many other financial pressures.
If you’re worried about that, don’t be. You do not lose your benefits in a separation. You are still technically married and you enjoy the rights that come with it. You do not even have to tell your spouse’s employer that you are separated. You can keep acting like a married couple until you get divorced and that legal union officially ends. At that time, you would lose those benefits. But not yet.
A separation agreement
This situation sheds some light on the reasons why couples often use a separation agreement. You and your spouse need to clearly define your rights and your roles during this time. Important questions to ask may be:
- When do you both see the kids?
- Who has to pay the bills at each residence?
- Can you both still use joint accounts?
- What is the official date of the separation?
- What should you do with your income?
- What happens to your assets — from the home to the car to the furnishings in your house — during the separation?
It is important to know exactly where you stand. At this point, you do not know what the future holds or where this separation is going to lead. Make sure you at least know what legal rights you have in the moment and how to protect them.