Everyone understands divorce as the end of a marriage, but what exactly is a legal separation? Is it the same as a divorce, a step that leads to divorce, or something entirely different?
The short answer is: A legal separation is not the same as a divorce and, although they often do come hand-in-hand, one does not necessarily imply the other is certain.
The Definitive Answer
By definition, a divorce is the process of terminating a marriage or marital union. A legal separation is a court-ordered agreement in which married couples live their lives apart from one another.
During a legal separation, the parties remain legally married. As such, questions regarding division of property and assets, child custody, visitation, alimony, and other important issues are not necessarily raised or decided upon.
Why Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce
Some people find the concept redundant. If you’re so unhappy or things aren’t working out, why not just rip the Band-Aid and get the divorce already?
It’s not that simple to some, and legal separation offers an alternative if they need time to truly decide the next and best course of action.
Legal separation is a great option for couples who:
- Are not yet sure they want a divorce and need time apart to decide
- Cannot afford to undergo the sometimes lengthy and often costly process of divorce
- Must remain legally married for health benefits, insurance, or other reasons
- Want to remain legally married to file taxes jointly and enjoy tax benefits
Sometimes a legal separation is the precursor to a divorce, but this is not a hard and fast truth. Some couples reconcile after spending time apart and enjoy a loving, stable marriage after the hiatus.
As we are all unique individuals, all marriages are unique as well, and what works best for one couple might not be ideal for another.
When Divorce is the Better Option
Remember when “pressing pause” on a relationship was always an option? Legal separation returns that as an option and it works well for many people, but not everyone.
Sometimes divorce is the better choice. You might decide divorce is better than legal separation if:
- You’re sure you are done with the marriage. In this case, it’s pointless spending time and money to legally separate only to go through divorce proceedings shortly thereafter.
- You want to get remarried.
- You no longer want to be “next of kin” for your spouse and vice versa.
In cases such as these, it’s worth it to divorce and enjoy total freedom from the spouse you no longer want to have any part of.
Bagner Law, PC Will Help
If you’re not sure what your best option is, don’t drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out alone. Consult Vonnah Bagner of Bagner Law, PC. She is a Family Law Attorney and will be able to confidently advise if a legal separation or divorce will work best for you.
Contact Bagner Law, PC today for more information.
If you have family woes, and you don’t know what to do, Vonnah Bagner is the attorney for you!