What’s The Difference Between Divorce And Legal Separation?

When a couple decides to get a divorce or separation, it is common for them to use the terms interchangeably. However, divorce and separation are actually two different things. That's why it's important to know the key differences and similarities between the two so you know which one is right for you. 

Legal Status

A couple that is legally separated is still technically married under the law, while a divorce means that the couple is no longer married. A separation means that each partner has decided to live apart and has gone through the process of dividing assets. They are still able to receive benefits as if they were still married, such as getting family benefits from a health insurance plan through the other person's employer. A divorce will cause both people to be considered single for tax and benefits purposes.

Financial Obligations

Each person may have financial obligations during a legal separation, which is when there is a requirement to pay spousal support, child support, and divide debts. The same is also true of a divorce, where these financial obligations are also decided on. This helps each person become financially separated from the other so they can be independent.

Child Custody

You also will need to decide on child custody during a divorce and separation. As long as the parents are living separately from each other, a custody agreement will be necessary to determine who a child lives with, the visitation schedule, and who will receive support payments.

Remarriage And Reconciliation

Each partner is still married in a legal separation, which means that they cannot get married to another person. There can only be another marriage if a divorce happens and the original marriage ends. However, those rights that come along with still being married will end along with the divorce. If a couple decides they want to stay married after a legal separation, it is much easier to do so from a legal standpoint. When a couple is divorced, they must get married again if they decide to reconcile. 

As you can see, there are many similarities and differences between a separation and a divorce. Not sure which one will work best for your situation? Reach out to a lawyer in your area that specializes in separations. They'll be able to let you know more about how the differences apply to your unique situation and give guidance on the best course of action. 

Contact a local separation lawyer to learn more.