Prior to making a final decision to seek a divorce, many spouses who experience marital troubles separate or live separate and apart. Living separate and apart or being separated can occur while living in the same residence if there has been a cessation of the marital relationship and communication that the parties are separating. There is no “legal separation” in Pennsylvania; parties are either separated or not per the law of the Commonwealth.
If you are planning on separating from your spouse, you need to be prepared, including communicating the intent to separate and preparing your finances. To help, below are some tips to keep in mind during a separation:
- Communicate the Intent to Separate – Clearly and precisely communicate to your spouse that you are separating. Furthermore, avoid any manifestations of being a married couple (e.g., sexual relations, saying or doing things to make others believe that you are an intact couple).
- Get Your Finances in Order – Get all your financial documents organized. This can include tax documents, property statements, bank statements, loan statements, credit card statements, retirement account and pensions statements, wills, etc. Also, if your partner handles the finances in your relationship, you will want to review all the details relating to the finances, including earnings, monthly expenses, assets, and liabilities.
- Document Financial Decisions – If you are separating from your spouse, and you made verbal decisions with them regarding finances (including assets, alimony, payment of expenses and debts, etc.), document those decisions for your records as you will most likely need to reference them.
- Manage Joint Accounts – If you have joint accounts with your spouse, as many married people do, you may want to consider dividing the account balances and closing the accounts. A party should also consider closing joint credit card accounts. Opening separate accounts to better trace finances may be beneficial.
- Consult with a Legal Expert – If you are considering a separation, consult with a legal expert who has the experience to guide you through your specific situation. They can advise you on many things including marital agreements, pre-divorce negotiations, pre-divorce mediations, divorce litigation, etc.
Prepare yourself and handle your finances if you are taking the steps toward the end of your marriage. This is critical to make sure you are covered if a divorce takes place.
Related: Learn more about how to prepare for a separation.
If you are going through a separation, and have questions about what this means for you, your spouse, and/or your children, our experienced lawyers would be happy to talk with you to discuss your situation and assess your options. Contact us online or call our law firm at 412-261-4040.