Guest Post: The Difference between Legal Separation and Divorce

Couples considering a legal separation or divorce are dealing with an extremely important decision. Negotiating a crisis like this is difficult and it’s best to know what your options are.

Legal separation and divorce are actually more similar than different, but there are several differences to take into account when couples make these decisions. Talking with a lawyer is advisable under these circumstances, but this explanation of the differences between legal separation and divorce should help you begin to assess your options.

Legal separation does not put an end to the marriage.

Divorce ends a marriage. With a legal separation, you remain legally married while choosing to live separate lives, “suspending” the marriage; in this case, neither party is allowed to remarry unless a divorce is filed and approved.

What kind of court intervention does a legal separation require?

A legal separation is meant to protect the interests of both parties while the couple decides what to do about the separation. To document the separation, an agreement must be reached with the court in the form of a court order or separation agreement. Contact a lawyer to begin this process.

Divorce agreements and legal separation agreements cover similar topics.

Though there are some critical differences between the two, both divorce and legal separation arrangements will cover the following

  • Custody of children
  • Financial support of children
  • Visitation with children
  • Division of assets
  • Alimony
  • Division of personal property

A legal separation agreement sets precedence for a divorce settlement agreement.

The agreement you and your partner make during a legal separation can protect your interests until the decision is made to file for divorce. At that time, a judge is likely to carry much of the legal separation agreement over to the divorce settlement agreement. For that reason, a legal separation agreement should be something both parties would be willing to live with for the long term should a divorce follow the separation.

What are the main reasons couples choose legal separation?

Trial separation.

Many couples choose legal separation in order to actively consider their marriage and carefully decide if they want to continue it. Taking time apart, away from marriage conflicts, is a common way to analyze this issue. A separation can last a short while, or a lifetime, depending on the couple’s decisions. At any time, with both parties’ agreement, a legal separation can be canceled by filling a reconciliation agreement with the court, officially renewing the marriage.

Medical benefits.

In a divorce, medical benefits (and often other financial benefits like military or social security) become separated. Legal separation allows both parties to continue to share medical benefits so both retain the needed coverage.

Religious beliefs.

Sometimes the religious beliefs of one or both of the parties conflicts with the idea of divorce. In this case, legal separation is often a good compromise between religion and relationship.

Author Bio: Jack is a freelance writer based in Seattle who spends his hours writing about relationships and law practices. You can reach Jack by leaving a comment or connecting with him on Twitter.



Filed under Divorce, Divorce Support

2 responses to “Guest Post: The Difference between Legal Separation and Divorce

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