Opting for legal separation: How it differs from divorce

When a legal issue arises in your family, the best way you can protect yourself and the ones you love is by consulting a family law attorney who understands how to help you.

As someone who is not happy with your spouse, you might think that a divorce is your only option. You don't want to go through a divorce, and you'd rather stay married due to the benefits it provides. You aren't interested in getting married again.

Someone like you is a great candidate for a legal separation instead of a divorce. Others may wish to use a legal separation prior to a divorce.

What is a legal separation?

A legal separation is not the same thing as a divorce. A legal separation is a court order that dictates what the duties are of a couple when they are married but not living together. This isn't a common document to obtain, but it is helpful for those who are separating and working through financial and personal issues while not wanting to go through a divorce.

Why is a legal separation different from a divorce?

A legal separation is different from a divorce because it does not result in a breakdown of a marriage. Although the couple lives apart and is not liable for the actions of the other party, they are still married. Some other important differences include:

  • Maintaining health care and benefits due to remaining on a spouse's plan
  • Retaining your marital status (you cannot remarry while legally separated)
  • Property rights: You'll be able to retain your right to property that you and your spouse share
  • Reconciliation: You have the right to reconcile with your spouse without having to remarry

Do you have to legally separate before a divorce?

You don't have to file for a legal separation before a divorce. In most states, there is a period of time that you must live separately, but that's not the same as legally separating.

Do you eventually have to divorce if you legally separate?

No, it's up to you to decide if a divorce is right. Some people choose to work on their marriages while separated. Others stay separated but never remarry, always staying married to their husbands or wives.

It's up to you and your spouse to decide if a legal separation is enough for your situation. Some people wish to get remarried, and that's not something you can do when legally separated. If you plan to do that, then it's a better idea to look into a divorce, even if you use a legal separation while you decide on a settlement.

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