Jada Pinkett Smith recently shocked people when she revealed that she and her husband, Will Smith, have been quietly separated for the last seven years. Shortly after, Hollywood icon Meryl Streep revealed that she and her husband separated six years ago.
What’s going on? Are the rich and famous just “quiet-quitting” their marriages, or is something more going on?
What’s the difference between a separation and a divorce?
Before you can understand what’s happening, you have to understand how a separation differs from a divorce.
Separations can be formal or informal, but a legal (formal) separation can do everything a divorce can do – including allocate property, determine parenting plans (if applicable) and establish support obligations. In fact, formal separation agreements often closely reflect final divorce agreements if the couple ultimately decides to move forward with their split.
The only thing a divorce doesn’t do is formally end the marriage and leave both parties free to remarry. Separations can be beneficial if a couple isn’t 100% certain that they want to divorce, since they can create necessary space so that the couple can reevaluate their relationship goals.
Why do people choose to have long (and quiet) separations?
Beyond the emotional aspects of the situation, a separation has additional benefits over divorce that can be very attractive to those who are affluent and/or over 50 years of age. That’s because:
- A separation preserves a dependent spouse’s access to their spouse’s health insurance. Once a divorce is final, it’s no longer possible for a couple to share health insurance benefits. That can be a big issue if one spouse has health issues.
- Separation agreements can preserve each spouse’s property rights should the other spouse die. That may be a valuable consideration if their property holdings are significant.
- Separations can allow a couple to handle their split privately, without a lot of people getting involved. Without anybody interfering, couples may be more comfortable working through their own feelings and trying to establish a healthy post-marital dynamic. That can be important if they share children (including adult children) together.
There’s no reason to continue to endure a marriage that’s no longer meeting your needs. Seeking legal guidance can help you better understand the legal options you have, including both separation and divorce. That’s also the best way to get guidance that’s tailored to the specifics of your situation when there’s a lot of money on the line.
At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.
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Mia Poppe, Esq.