Married couples in New Jersey and elsewhere may end up living apart in prolonged separation situations with neither partner making the move to initiate divorce proceedings. While both parties involved may believe that slowly drifting apart is a simple short-term solution, their choices may have unpleasant consequences in the end, particularly as far as finances are concerned.
When they are living apart, neither the husband nor the wife has much control over jointly-owned marital property. Neither knows what the other is spending, and if they reside in a community property state each spouse may be responsible for any debt the other incurs. In addition, it becomes easy for one person to hide assets during a long-term separation.
A prolonged separation could have other consequences as well. Changes in employment or other circumstances could affect the amount of alimony and child support people receive if they delay in filing a divorce. One partner may move to another state where alimony laws are less favorable to the other spouse. It is important to remember that separated spouses are still legally married. This could mean that where one spouse fails to report income on a jointly-filed tax return, the other spouse could face Internal Revenue Service problems. Advisers accordingly recommend that spouses contemplating a separation enter into a formal agreement with provisions dealing with limitation on liabilities and indemnification.
A person contemplating a separation or divorce may wish to speak with an attorney who has experience in family law matters. The attorney may be able to offer advice and counsel relating to such matters as property division and spousal support.
Source: Forbes, “Putting Off Divorce? Ten Ways Long-term Separations Can Do Women More Harm Than Good“, Jeff Landers, October 03, 2013