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Divorce vs. legal separation for those on a fixed income

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2023 | Divorce

Are you retired or on a fixed income and suddenly facing the prospect of a divorce? Ending an unhappy marriage may be good for the soul, but it can wreak havoc on the finances of older Americans.

For most older U.S. residents, a “gray divorce” (a common term for divorce involving those over 50) poses unique economic challenges. A few include:

  • Loss of retirement funds
  • Loss of health insurance coverage
  • Loss of the ability to pay medical and other bills

When spouses are willing, seeking a legal separation instead of a divorce may be the wiser option. Unlike some states, Ohio allows couples to legally separate.

What are the advantages?

Although you will still be legally married, an official separation gives you many of the same personal benefits a divorce offers. For example, you can live separately and apart from your spouse while retaining your legal status as married.

Following are some other potential benefits:

  • One of the spouses may qualify for spousal support.
  • Spouses can still obtain a marital property settlement.
  • Property rights can be preserved if one spouse dies before the other.
  • Spouses may make decisions (financial, medical, etc.) for each other.

When marriages fail for people at risk of economic hardships, such as those living on a fixed income, a legal separation could solve many money-related problems.

As far as the disadvantages of a legal separation, there are only a few. The biggest drawback for most is remaining bound to a spouse and unable to marry someone else.

Seek guidance when deciding whether to divorce or separate. Someone knowledgeable about Ohio family law can help you make choices that pose the fewest financial risks.