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What is the difference between divorce and a legal separation?

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2020 | Firm News

As you and your spouse grow further apart, you may wonder what options you have to reflect this in a legal status. 

Learning the difference between separation and divorce can help you make the right choice for both of you. 

What it entails 

Many factors play into choosing legal separation over divorce or vice versa. Legal separation is a distinct category from divorce, which details the rights of two people who are still married but living separately. Separation is not as prolific as divorce, which may lead to confusion over what those differences are. 

What the differences are 

Your financial lives are much more entwined in a separation than in a divorce. Many benefits, such as health care, stay the same when you separate. If you choose to divorce, you no longer have a right to be the next of kin or make important health decisions in the case of an emergency for your spouse. In addition, you do not have the same property rights in a divorce that you do in a separation. Mediation may be easier to complete if you intend to stay married. 

Divorce is permanent. A separation indicates that you and your spouse are legally still married, but a divorce is officially the end of the marriage. 

What stays the same 

However, it is important to note that not all proceedings are different when getting a divorce. In some instances, both spouses may divide the property up upon completion of their separation. Often, both people will live in different locations after a separation. You may also have to arrange child custody in both situations.