Is It Better to Get Divorced Or Separated?

Many people wonder if it’s better to get divorced or separated. The confusion might arise because the two are similar in many ways. In both cases, certain issues must be settled.

divorce is a court order that a valid marriage no longer exists. It divides property and determines child custody, child support, and spousal support if appropriate. After a divorce, both parties are free to remarry.

In a legal separation, the couple remains legally married, but they live apart. Legal separations may be mutually agreed to or ordered by judicial decree. As in a divorce, the order or agreement will specify arrangements regarding child custody, child support, and spousal support.

What is the difference between divorce and separation?

The procedure is essentially the same for both. In some states, the spouses can enter into a separation agreement that decides the issues and is legally binding but does not involve the court. In most states, you must file a petition for legal separation in court. The spouses or their attorneys may negotiate and reach an agreement on the issues, or the court decides the issues and orders the legal separation. The most important difference between legal separation and divorce is that if you are legally separated from your spouse, you are still married. If you later decide to divorce, even though you may have resolved all of the issues, you will have to go through the necessary legal steps to end your marriage.

What is the point of a legal separation?

Sometimes, one or both spouses are unsure about ending the marriage. Couples who want to leave the option of reconciliation open may want time and space to decide whether to save the marriage. In that case, they may choose to get separated instead of divorced. People chose to legally separate yet remain married to one another for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Health insurance is one of the most common reasons for choosing legal separation. Spouses may stay eligible for one another’s health care or insurance benefits if they are still legally married. However, legally separated spouses are not always eligible for certain benefits.
  • Concern for the effect of a divorce on the children
  • Religious beliefs. 
  • There are tax implications if you and your spouse remain married.
  • Remaining legally married may affect immigration status
  • Staying married may affect eligibility for certain government benefits, such as Social Security. Your attorney can advise you about eligibility for these benefits.
  • Because of your state’s residency requirements or waiting period, you may not be eligible to file for divorce, but you want to live separately.
  • The couple finds it less emotionally stressful to live as a legally separated couple rather than as a married couple.

What are the disadvantages of legal separation?

The most important disadvantage of a legal separation is that the parties are not permitted to remarry. If either of you wants to remarry, you cannot do so unless you obtain a divorce.

There are also financial disadvantages to legal separation. As a married couple, your finances are typically tied to those of your spouse. If a married couple divorces, their assets are divided. In addition, divorcing may be better if you are concerned that your spouse may put your assets at risk.

What is the first thing to do when separating?

Once you have decided to separate, you and your spouse must agree on a separation date. You may need a date of separation to get your finances sorted out, deal with agencies such as Medicare, or apply for divorce. You will also need to make a decision about where the spouses and children will live. Next, you should:

Update your bank account and credit card information. You may want to close joint bank and credit card accounts, check on the status of automatic payments and arrange for your income to go to your personal account.

Gather documentation. As your separation or divorce progresses, you will need certain essential documents. These include:

  • Bank statements
  • Loan statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Retirement or pension benefit statements
  • Health insurance
  • Home, car, and life insurance
  • Tax returns
  • Utility and other regular bills

When should I contact a divorce lawyer near me?

Many people consider contacting a divorce lawyer early on. A family law attorney can help people navigate a divorce, and all that comes with it. There are many ways to find a divorce lawyer near you.