What is The Difference Between a Legal Separation and Divorce?
Unlike divorce, a legal separation does not put an end to the marriage. During a legal separation, you have a court order that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse while they are living apart. You remain legally married while choosing to live separate lives. Issues that can be addressed in a separation agreement are division of assets and debts, child custody and child support, visitation schedules and spousal support.

The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce
How to File for a Legal Separation
How to Behave During a Legal Separation

The same issues addressed during the divorce process are also addressed in a legal separation agreement. A legal separation can protect your interests until the decision is made to file for divorce. The separation agreement also sets a precedence for the divorce that may follow. If you divorce after a separation and your case goes to court, a judge is likely to assume that since you were satisfied with the legal separation agreement, the agreement should carry over to the divorce settlement agreement. For that reason, it is important that you come to a separation agreement you can live with long term.

Do I Need a Legal Separation Agreement?
The Financial Benefits of a Legal Separation Agreement?
Will I Receive Spousal Support During a Legal Separation?

Although a legal separation and divorce have, many things in common there are some advantages to obtaining a legal separation rather than a divorce. Those advantages include:

It allows couples time apart, away from the conflict of the marriage to decide if divorce is what they truly want.
It allows for the retention of medical benefits and certain other benefits that divorce would bring to an end.
If your religious beliefs conflict with the idea of divorce, you are able to live separately and retain your marital status for religious beliefs.
If you are a military spouse, you may wish to remain married for 10 years so that you can take advantage of benefits set up by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.
Remaining married for 10 years or more also means being able to take advantage of certain social security benefits for a spouse.
If the decision to divorce is made, the legal separation agreement can be converted into a divorce settlement agreement.


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