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What options do Maryland couples have besides divorce?

Most people think that when couples have experienced a considerable amount of marital problems that the logical next step is to file for divorce. Though this may be true for some, this isn't always the first thought for all couples. In some cases, a couple may hesitate to file for divorce because of personal or religious convictions. In other cases, a couple may try to postpone filing for divorce because they have the hope that they can work through their marital problems without having to resort to dissolving their marriage.

So what options do Maryland couples have besides divorce? Well, one alternative is to separate. Because a separation does not legally dissolve the marriage, a couple can work through their problems without having to add more stress to their plate by handling the divorce process. Furthermore, if a couple does resolve their differences, a separation allows them to resume married life without having to go through the marriage process all over again.

Though couples here in Maryland can simply choose to separate, it's typically considered a good idea to draft a separation agreement in which the couple agrees to live separately but continue contributing to family finances, supporting and caring for any children the couple has, and continuing health insurance for the entire family. A separation agreement can also outline how the couple will divide belongings while they are living separately.

Because a separation agreement is considered a contract, both parties need to know that they can be held legally responsible if they breach the terms of the contract. This can lead to litigation, which is why it's also considered a good idea to have a lawyer help with the drafting of a separation agreement.

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Separation Agreements," Mary Jo Lazun, June 13, 2014

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