Legal Separation Vs. Divorce

Young couple going through therapy and listening to the therapistPeople constantly wonder, what is the difference between legal separation and divorce? The main difference between the two, of course, is that with legal separation the couple is still legally married and still has the option to work through their issues and stay married. With divorce, this is not an option. During legal separation, the couple works through issues and still has the same duties, responsibilities, and benefits that accompany a marriage, the couple is just choosing to live apart from each other for awhile.

In a legal separation, the court will determine things such as what to do about custody of children (if there are any), visitation rights, and property division. There are three different types of legal separation: trial separation, living separately, and permanent separation. Below is a description of each type of separation:

Trial Separation: This type of separation refers to when a couple merely decides it’s time to take a break. The individuals in the couple take an undetermined amount of time apart from each other in order to determine whether or not they wish to continue the marriage. This type of separation has no legal bearing and all property accumulated during this type is still seen as joint property.

Living Separately: This type of separation refers to when a couple decides to end the marriage. This is the stage that happens before the divorce (in some cases) and is usually a mandate from the court that the couple live separately for a time before ending the marriage. Property accumulated during this time is usually viewed as that individual’s property, but certain states vary with how the property division in this case is managed.

Permanent Separation: This type of separation refers to when a couple decides to end the marriage, and neither partner has any interest in staying in the marriage any longer. This separation is permanent and all property accumulated after the separation takes place is seen by the court to be owned individually.

With all three types of separation, the couple is still married and can still decide to get back together if they wish. These types of separation are usually done for the couple to decide what they want and/or to give the children involved in the family a chance to get accustomed to their parents living separately.

Legal separation isn’t very common, since when couples get to the point where they are unsure of whether or not to stay in a marriage, they usually either end up working things out with the other person or they decide to get a divorce. Legal separation can be a good way, however, for the couple to reassess what they want from the relationship and attempt to work things out with the other person before taking the final plunge into divorce.

When divorce is the only options, speak to an experienced Divorce attorney. Contact the law offices of Amy Montes, she can answer all your questions about the process and provide you with the best options available for you. You can also send us a message, fill out our online contact form.