Spelling out the differences between legal separation and divorce


Are you someone who has already started experiencing problems in your marital relationship? Did your problems escalate to such a stature that you no longer want to live in the same house with your spouse?  If this is the situation you are living in, legal separation or divorce is probably the ideal option for you.  Keep reading this article as we have discussed the differences between divorce and legal separation.

Separation –  What is it?

If you want to take some time off from your marriage,  you can opt for a separation. This can occur when both spouses agree on the fact that they would individually want to explore the idea of living apart from each other while they try to resolve their issues.

Most couples separate physically and this means that they have different residential and physical addresses after the separation. However, when we say living apart, this doesn’t always mean living in separate residences. A couple might be separated but still be living in the same household due to custody or financial reasons. In such a case, the couple can choose to live like roommates rather than a married couple.

What is permanent separation?

Whenever the couple feels that there is no hope of getting back together as a couple,  they can opt for a permanent separation. There is nothing that can stop a couple from joining each other even during a permanent separation,  but when you do this you should keep in mind the effect it can have on your marital property. In case the couple gets back together even in the middle of a permanent separation, the debts and assets remain as marital property.

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What is a legal separation? 

A legal separation is a process that is approved by the court. The couple submits a settlement, to which, if they cannot agree, the judge supervises the disbursement of debts and assets between the two parties. He also decides on child support arrangements and custody arrangements if both parties don’t agree. There are some states that have a definite time on legal separation but there are others too that permit a couple to stay separated for an indefinite time period.

What are the differences between separation and divorce?

To say the least, while a separation leaves the marriage intact, a divorce ends it. A couple might choose to stay separated rather than get divorced as it is easier to reverse in separation than in divorce. All they need to do is get back together and request the court to revoke the decree of separation and end the case.

When a couple is still married but separated,  the spouses can still exercise their medical decision-making rights. But when they are divorced,  they no longer enjoy the rights of making medical or financial decisions for each other. 

When you separate in spite of being married to each other,  you can still retain the health care benefits of your spouse.  You lose this right if you are divorced.

Therefore, now that you are aware of the differences between separation and divorce,  you may get the help of a family law attorney to discuss your case and make an informed choice.


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