Is it legal to get a divorce for financial reasons? This can be a complex question to answer. If you still want relationship with your spouse but feel as though a divorce may be the right financial option, you need to consult with a professional. Here are a few of the things that you need to consider.
The Difference Between a "Sham" Divorce and a Legitimate Divorce
If you get a divorce under false pretenses in order to alter the deals you already have with creditors, this is a sham divorce. This is considered to be fraud, and though it is unlikely to be pursued, it isn't the appropriate way to resolve your debts.
Bankruptcy is the effective and legal solution to debt problems. However, if you get a divorce to avoid future financial issues, whatever those issues are, it is legitimate.
Marriage is a legal and financial entanglement. You are entitled to get divorce if you legitimately feel that you and your spouse cannot be financially entangled for the good of both of you.
An example of this is a spouse who continually overspends and gets into debt. Just because you don't want to be financially involved with your spouse doesn't mean that you need to stop cohabitating or end your romantic relationship. When you get a paper divorce, you trade the legal and financial benefits of marriage but can keep the relationship aspect.
The Financial Benefits of a Divorce
Divorce does come with some significant financial benefits, but they may not be what you expect. A divorce isn't going to remove you from past debts, but it is going to make your spouse and yourself responsible for your own future debts. If you frequently find your spouse opening new credit cards for household expenses, those are currently your debts. On the other hand, if you get divorced and continue to live together, any future costs will be their burden alone.
Finances are one of the primary reasons people get divorced, but they don't have to be a reason for people to break up. Some couples are able to navigate the situation successfully by getting a divorce, completely separating their finances, and remaining a team in other ways. Of course, this also foregoes some financial benefits such as tax breaks, but it can often lead to a net win.
Divorces also make it possible to pull money out of retirement accounts without a penalty. Retirement accounts have exceptions for significant life changes. So you or your spouse may be able to pull money out of your retirement accounts in order to pay off your debts. While this shouldn't be the primary reason for getting divorced, it is a good side effect of the divorce if you have a lot of debt.
If one spouse is heading towards bankruptcy and the other isn't, disentangling any future financial assets and investments can be an important step. You shouldn't do this in preparation to declare bankruptcy (and it's already possible for one spouse to declare bankruptcy and the other not to), but rather as a way to show that you two are not financially compatible and that continuing to be married could be detrimental.
A good example of the above situation is if one spouse has a chronic condition that is going to lead to significant medical debt. In this situation, it isn't irresponsible or illegal for you to get divorced, as you know that remaining married is going to have a significant impact on your life. You can instead get a paper divorce.
Since the nuances between a sham divorce and a legitimate divorce could potentially be vague, you need to get a professional opinion as soon as possible. For more information about the process, contact Peter S. Aes, Attorney At Law.