How to Protect Your Interests During a Legal Separation

man and woman talking to a lawyer
A legal separation is a serious matter, but it is not as final as a divorce. Legal separation refers to a situation where a married couple decides to remain in the marriage, at least for the time being, but they live in different residences. This often happens after a court order has been issued. 

Although the court may decide on things like the division of property and child custody during a legal separation, the couple can still strive to solve things in the relationship and sometimes avoid divorce. No matter what you plan to do on a long-term basis, be sure to take these actions to protect yourself during a legal separation. 

Assess Your Financial Situation

You may not want to think about money during a time of crisis, but that is exactly when you should be considering it. If the legal separation leads to a divorce, you may be facing changes in every part of your life, and your financial situation could change dramatically. It's important to realistically assess the finances in the marriage.

Pull credit reports for you and your spouse. Look at all checking accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts and other assets. If you have questions, ask your spouse for more details. It's OK to demand information that can have a big impact on your life. Don't shy away from gathering information to help you make the best decisions.

Protect Your Online Accounts

Although spouses may share everything from email address passwords to answers to privacy questions on bank accounts, you may think twice about continuing this level of trust during a legal separation. It's wise to take steps to protect your online data to ensure that your private information and personal correspondence remains protected.

This means that you should change passwords and privacy questions and answers on email accounts, bank account logins and even your login information for websites like PayPal. That will prevent your spouse from easily logging in and gathering information on you that you'd rather not share.

Set Up a Private Mailing Address

During a legal separation, you may have a greater need for privacy as you make inquiries and gather information in case you and your spouse don't reconcile. Therefore, you need to be able to receive mail without your spouse having access to it.

If you don't have a separate residence where you can keep the mail you receive private from your spouse, consider opening a post office box or other private mail box. You needn't disclose that information to your spouse. It will give you a greater sense of independence and allow you to maintain a higher level of privacy.

Establish Your Own Individual Credit

Although you may have relied on the strength of shared credit in the marriage, it's important to be sure that you have good credit on your own. The sooner you start establishing your own individual credit, the better off you will be if you do end up facing a divorce.

Get a credit card that isn't linked to your spouse at all. If you haven't yet established any credit in your own name or have bad credit, you can get a secured credit card. Although you will have to deposit a certain sum of money, which is usually around $300 as a minimum, that is a good way to start building your positive credit history.
Finally, keep in mind that you are not alone. No matter how the tentative breakup is going, a divorce attorney can be there for every legal step of the separation. Your lawyer can help you make decisions that are in your own best interests. If you are seeking a legal separation or divorce, contact The Law Office of Michael Lilly to see how we can help you move forward.