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What’s the Difference Between A Legal Separation and A Divorce?

Ending a marriage can be complicated and messy. One of the first decisions that you will need to make is whether you prefer a legal separation or a divorce, but telling the difference between the two may seem confusing at first. Fortunately, our relationship experts break down the differences into simple explanations that allow you to make the best choice for working through your relationship differences.

How Being Legally Separated is Different From a Divorce

A legal separation requires many of the same obligations as a divorce concerning child custody and support. However, you remain legally married with this type of separation until you seek an actual divorce. At first glance, it may seem silly to go through all of the steps of a divorce without actually dissolving your marriage. Yet, a legal separation and a divorce both have benefits depending upon your personal circumstances.

Reasons To Choose a Legal Separation

As some couples are just not ready to file for divorce because of moral or religious reasons, a legal separation is one way to move forward with life without feeling tremendous guilt or facing social backlash. For other couples, a divorce may not be possible yet because of residency requirements or waiting periods put in place by their state. For example, Connecticut has a 12-month residency requirement that must be met before you can apply for divorce.

Since you are still married during a legal separation, this is also an option that you may choose if you are concerned about losing health insurance or other important benefits. However, it is important to seek legal advice if you are trying to retain benefits since there are sometimes special rules regarding legal separations and eligibility.

Reasons To Opt For a Divorce

For couples that do not have restrictions placed upon getting a divorce, this option provides a more permanent solution to ending a relationship. Since a divorce is final, this option also means that you will not have to go back through a similar process unless you get married again. If you live in a “community property state” such as Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, and Wisconsin, then a divorce also simplifies the division of property, since you will not have to determine what to do with any assets that might be acquired during a separation. Choosing a divorce means that you can fully move on with your life unencumbered by the burden of having to return to court to settle things in the future.

Things That Are Decided During a Legal Separation

Although legal separations are sometimes viewed as being less stressful than dealing with the permanence of divorce, you will still be faced with some big decisions. If you have children, then you will need to work with your partner to decide upon custody and child support arrangements. You may also need to agree upon how you divide property such as your house, cars and bank accounts. In some instances, separation maintenance may be ordered, which is similar to alimony and meant to help one spouse rebuild his or her life during the time the separation is active.

Choosing the Best Option For Your Family

If you have kids, it is even more important to seek a long-term solution to your marital problems. This is why legal separations and divorces both establish agreements for child custody and support since kids benefit from knowing what will happen next. Couples without kids may have more flexibility when choosing between the options, but factors such as your age, health and current financial situation may all play a role in your decision. Working with your online lawyer is the most effective way to narrow down your options into one that offers you the most benefits.

Whether you choose a legal separation or divorce, understanding your options gives you more control over your future. When you find yourself at a crossroads, reach out to our experts here at Cuppls so that we can guide you to the right decision.


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