After being married for multiple decades, some couples are ready to call it quits. After all, if they have only 20 to 30 years left of their lives, they understandably want the freedom to do as they please. Being legally separated before getting divorced may be a wise move for those contemplating the dissolution of a marriage in Pennsylvania, particularly when many assets or high-value assets have to undergo property division.
Legal separations are invaluable for multiple reasons. First, without formalizing a split, one party might be liable for the other's debts that were incurred during the span of time they spent apart. This is true even if the first party knew nothing about these debts.
In addition, the other spouse might make financial and medical decisions for the first spouse in the event of incapacitation and thus will likely inherit the first spouse's estate immediately after his or her death. Furthermore, a retirement account may not be divided if there is no divorce decree. Thus, a spouse who is entitled to receive a share of a 401(k) or pension will not be able to claim these funds unless the other person dies and a death benefit has been inherited.
Some couples who are legally separated are now drafting post-nuptial agreements during their separations. This allows them to create rules for their financial arrangements so that matters such as property division, debts and disposable income are addressed before the divorce. An attorney in Pennsylvania may help with navigating the complex process of separation and divorce, and ensure that one's rights are protected at all stages.
Source: stltoday.com, "Older couples ponder financial impact of divorce", Beth Pinsker, May 14, 2017