If you are experiencing marital problems, you and your spouse may decide to separate. It is important that you speak with an attorney to draw up a legal separation agreement before you officially part ways. In California, the state does recognize such agreements, which means that you could protect yourself and your spouse if you choose to separate for a short timeframe.

Legal separation agreements will protect you during a separation, especially if your spouse fails to live up to his or her obligations outlined in the agreement. This agreement will be court-enforced, as well – as long as it is drafted in accordance with the law.

Five Reasons Why You Need a Legal Separation Agreement

Many couples in California will legally separate, but without an official agreement. No matter the reasons for your separation or how long you plan to separate, an agreement benefits both parties because:

  • 1. It gives you tax advantages. If you are paying spousal support during the separation, those payments can be legally claimed on your tax deductions. But, only if the payments are part of a legal separation agreement. If you are separated without a legal agreement, your spousal support payments are not tax deductible.
  • 2. Certain marital benefits can remain intact. This agreement helps you retain certain marital benefits, such as still being covered under your spouse’s health insurance plan. With the agreement, you can write into that agreement which benefits you want to remain intact and continue during the course of the separation.
  • 3. Payments are clearly defined. When you separate, it can become muddled as to who is responsible for debt obligations. Consider this example: Your spouse moves out, but you still own a home together. While you remain in the family home, are you supposed to make mortgage payments? Will your spouse contribute? By creating a legal separation agreement, all payments will be clearly outlined. You can decide who will be responsible for maintaining the home – including utilities, insurance, and even repairs. You can also discuss who is responsible for other marital debts or child care expenses.
  • 4. Boundaries are established. If you share checking and savings accounts, or if you have joint credit card accounts, it is imperative that you include them in a legal separation agreement. Here, you can define the boundaries of said accounts – ensuring that one spouse does not overspend or charge excessively during the split. Your agreement may even stipulate that all joint accounts be closed, and each of you open your own account.
  • 5. Debts are handled. You can start working out a plan to help pay down debts – in case you and your spouse move forward with the divorce process later. The legal separation agreement can set limits for how those debt obligations will be handled and who will be responsible for payments, and you can even start addressing assets for distribution.

Separating? Speak with an Expert Attorney Today

To protect yourself and your future, you need a legal separation agreement. Regardless of your reasons behind the separation, you and your spouse need to have clearly defined parameters for the event. To explore your options for a separation agreement, or to have one drafted, contact Sarieh Law Offices today at 714-542-6200, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.