Navigating the world of divorce can be a tricky one. When you decide to end your marriage you need to determine what the best course of action is.

One of the questions you will likely be asking yourself is whether it’s better to have a legal separation or a divorce.

Legal Separation versus Divorce

To determine that, you’ll need to figure out the difference between a legal separation and divorce and what the pros and cons of each will be.

Then you will be able to better determine what the best course of action is for you.

Basically legal separation is when you live apart, but legally you remain married. You still need to go to court and work out things like the separation of property or child custody and child support.

You can get a legal separation, but if down the road you do decide that divorce is the answer, then you will have to go to court to legally absolve the marriage.

But why would anyone be legally separated rather than divorced if you’re going to have everything that you have with divorce, just not actually legally be divorced? Well, there are actually many reasons.

Here are some:

  • Couples sometimes oppose divorce for moral or religious reasons so they will see a legal separation as a way to get around that.
  • If a spouse is about to become legally eligible for another spouse’s government benefits (social security) then they might want to legally remain married for those benefits.
  • For health insurance benefit reasons. If you are legally divorced then you can lose health benefits, so couples will remain legally married just to maintain those health insurance benefits.
  • For tax benefits. Couples will see a reason financially to receive such tax breaks to remain legally married even if they aren’t actually still living together.
  • Sometimes couples think that time apart might fix whatever marital problems they may have. So they might still be working on their marriage, but feel they can’t do that while still living together.
  • You are not eligible for divorce due to a state law which requires you to reside in it for a certain amount of time before you can legally file for divorce. However, you can’t remain living together so a legal separation is the best answer for you.
  • Legal separations can sometimes be less stressful to negotiate than a divorce, so sometimes couples just opt to go that route.

A legal separation isn’t the answer for everyone who is going through a rough time in their marriage and is looking to end it, but divorce isn’t always the answer either.

A couple needs to determine what’s best for them based on financial obligations and moral and religious beliefs.

Take these issues into consideration, and discuss with your spouse what the best course of action will be for the both of you when you are deciding to end a marriage.

Speak with an attorney about your options.

While you might be staying legally married to get social security benefits, there might be some fine print which will exclude a legally separated spouse from receiving these benefits.

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