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A legal separation agreement can cover whatever issues you desire. For example, the separation agreement would likely contain language addressing the division of personal property, exclusive use and possession of the marital home and spousal support.
While you did not state this, it appears that you have a long-term marriage. As such, spousal support may certainly be an issue. As a general rule, support may need to be addressed where the marriage is at least ten years and there is a substantial disparity in the incomes.
As to insurance, this would likely remain the same during any separation. If you divorce, you would each need to handle your insurance separately. Until then, the current policy could likely stay in place.
As to his retirement account, you are entitled to one-half of anything that was accumulated during the marriage. For example, if he accumulated $50,000 during the marriage, you would be entitled to $25,000 once the proceeds were distributed.
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Considering the financial issues, it may be difficult to hold onto the house. If you cannot afford it jointly, it is doubtful that either of you can afford it separately. As such, a bankruptcy and/or foreclosure is certainly a realistic option.
As to a bankruptcy and/or foreclosure, it would effect both of you as you own the home jointly. This is the case regardless of which of you remains in the home. In fact, you might prefer to stay there while the bankruptcy and/or foreclosure proceeds as you would be able to live there free of charge until the litigation is resolved.
But no, it would not look like abandonment if you were the one to leave the home.
Each separate legal action can take a different amount of time. Having said that, I would expect a bankruptcy to take about six to nine months. As to a foreclosure, that would probably last a year, maybe even two. Meaning, you could remain in the house for as long as about two years while the foreclosure proceeds.
If you are interested in filing a bankruptcy action, you would need to look for a bankruptcy attorney in your area. A quick search of your local phone book or an online search will surely turn up a dozen such attorneys in your general vicinity.
Having your house foreclosed on is simple, just stop paying the mortgage. After you miss a couple payments, the mortgage company will contact you and, soon thereafter, initiate a foreclosure proceeding.
Either a foreclosure or a bankruptcy will have a significant effect on your credit, your credit score will likely drop a couple hundred points. Having said that, our current economic situation has led to an unprecedented number of bankruptcy and foreclosure actions. As such, they simply do not have the negative impact they once did.
As to which is better, that would be too fact driven for us to discuss here. I would urge you to set up an office conference with a local bankruptcy attorney. In a face-to-face meeting, you could discuss all the little details that apply to your situation and then make an informed, intelligent decision as to whether to file one or the other or both.
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