Legal Separation Vs. Divorce: Understanding the Differences

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Legal separation vs divorce

If you’ve decided to split from your spouse, it can be tricky to decide what happens next. Do you want to go down the path of a divorce or should you go through a legal separation?

Legal separation is often a less drastic measure, which will give you the break you want, yet avoids a divorce in the early days of your split.

This tends to be a good move if you decide not to live together any longer. There are legalities involved, and rights agreed upon, yet you will still be legally married to your husband or wife.

Read on for a detailed explanation to help you make a choice when it comes to legal separation vs divorce.

Key Differences

The major difference is that divorce will terminate a marriage. A legal separation means the marriage is still intact, but you will be living apart.

It’s a softer way of splitting up, allowing time to decide what happens next. There may be a chance of a reconciliation, and this allows you to consider this without ending your marriage (potentially) prematurely.

You may very well, as time goes on, decide that a divorce is indeed the right option in your circumstances. If so, you’ll have to take the next legal steps to end the marriage officially.

One of the major perks of legally separating is that you avoid this in the first place.

Major Reasons People Get a Legal Separation vs Divorce

Every circumstance is different, but here are some of the main reasons people might stay married instead of filing for divorce straight away.

– Tax reasons: there is a tax benefit to remaining married.

– You might want to buy time for a potential reconciliation, in which case the efforts, cost and stress of divorce would be fruitless.

– You might not be able to file for a divorce. This can often be an issue according to the residency requirements of the state in which you live. In this case, the next move would be to get a court-sanctioned separation agreement. This will bridge the gap between separating and divorcing. If you are later eligible, you can eventually file for a divorce.

– It might be that you are perfectly amicable with your spouse and you are willing to negotiate a separation agreement rather than jumping straight into the path of divorce proceedings. These are obviously ideal scenarios, especially when there are children to consider. Parents splitting up is still considered one of the most upsetting things a child can go through.

– One spouse will soon become eligible for his or her spouse’s government benefits.

– One spouse can still be eligible for the other’s health care or insurance benefits if they stay married.

With regards to the latter two, it’s important that you make sure ahead of time that both you and your spouse’s employers are going to honor this, in your particular scenario.

There are some instances where certain benefits exclude legally separated spouses from eligibility, and only apply to a divorced couple.

Types of Separation

You might want to take on a trial separation. This does what it says on the tin: you are testing the water on being apart. Not only will this give you the chance to decide whether or not you want to be together, but it will test whether a legal separation vs divorce is indeed the best option.

This is less of a legal arrangement. If you decide on a permanent separation there is no legal effect. The legal separation is a specific type of separation in which one of the spouses has actually filed separation paperwork in court.

Debts that are acquired by either party following a permanent separation, but before a final divorce, and are used for things necessary for the family, are considered joint debts of both spouses.

Mortgage payments and child care expenses might be included here.

Legal Separation vs Divorce

You will need to hire a divorce attorney with a track record of dealing with legal separations if you are weighing up the legal separation vs divorce options.

Divorce is one major dispute that a family could go through. It can be extremely taxing, emotional and difficult. Finding a way to divide the time each parent has with their children, or splitting property and assets, or agreeing on levels of financial support can have the potential to get stressful and messy.

Don’t try to do it by yourself. At Perusse Family Law & Mediation Services, LLC, we offer over two decades of experience and quality representation to clients in the Denver and Minneapolis metro areas.

Contact us for more information – we’d be happy to help.

Legal separation vs divorce