Making the decision to end a marriage does not typically happen overnight. Couples typically go through at least some period of transition before a divorce where they will try to repair a marriage or try alternative solutions. In some cases, couples will stay together until their children are out of the house. But in some situations, these periods of adjustment and transition can stretch on for many years.
This may not seem like a problem if a couple has found ways to make a separation work. But if and when a Texas couple ultimately decides to divorce, they may be unpleasantly surprised when it comes to splitting up marital assets during the process of property division.
After long periods of separation, two spouses may have adjusted their individual spending and saving habits dramatically. In some cases, living apart for several years can mean that one spouse will have little or no awareness of how the other is doing financially.
For example, one spouse may be overspending significantly, which could put both spouses in debt under the community property laws in Texas. Time apart could also give one person the time and ability to hide assets before the other spouse is even aware that they exist.
Another financial risk of long separations prior to a divorce is the fact that circumstances are more likely to change the longer the separation lasts. While a couple may be financially secure and on equal footing at the beginning of a separation, over time, one person may lose his or her job or have adjusted to a different standard of living. This can have a significant impact on how and what assets ultimately get divided.
Time can be a good thing when it comes to divorce. It can give people the opportunity to think things through and figure out what they want and what is in their best interests. But it is important to balance the benefits of time with the consequences of delay. During a separation, people may want to speak with an attorney to determine what their options are and what may be at stake if they put off a divorce for too long.
Source: Forbes, “Putting Off Divorce? Ten Ways Long-term Separations Can Do Women More Harm Than Good,” Jeff Landers, Oct. 3, 2013