Many Arkansas couples choose to live apart in a “trial separation” before moving forward with divorce.

However, in a separation, just as in a divorce, it is important to make sure that the spouses’ rights with regard to marital property are protected. This is especially true for couples with high net worth or in situations where one partner relies on the other’s income.

Couples who plan on living apart as a precursor to divorce would be wise to contact a Little Rock family law attorney who can help them draft a legal separation agreement.

Legal Separation Agreements Protect Financial Futures

In many respects, a legal separation agreement functions like a divorce order. It provides guidance on issues including alimony, child custody and support, and division of assets and debts.

A legal separation agreement can provide much-needed financial protection. For example, it can prevent one spouse from spending down the couple’s assets in an effort to prevent the other from getting his or her fair share in the divorce. It can also establish a legal obligation to provide financial support to a spouse that stayed out of the workforce in order to raise the couple’s children.

In addition, a legal separation can establish responsibility for the couple’s debts. Because the couple is still technically married, both spouses are legally liable for debts incurred during the separation. However, a legal separation agreement can mitigate this liability by creating an indemnification agreement between the spouses.

These are only a few of the ways a legal separation agreement can help couples in the beginning stages of a high net worth divorce. Every couple is different, and an Arkansas divorce lawyer can draft an agreement that best fits the couple’s unique needs.

Separation and divorce are hard, but they don’t have to be destructive. If you are separating from your spouse, protect your financial future by consulting with an experienced Arkansas family law attorney.

Source: Forbes, “Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially?” Jeff Landers, Jan. 10, 2012.