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Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation

Divorce is not only emotionally difficult; it’s a major step for a couple. Is a divorce really necessary? Legal separation is another route you could take instead. We’ll outline the differences between a divorce and a legal separation for you to decide which is the right option for you.

First off, a divorce ends the marriage permanently, while a legal separation does not. A court order outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse when it comes to a legal separation. They are similar in the sense that the same issues are addressed in a divorce and a legal separation: division of assets, child custody and support, visitation, and spousal support. A legal separation court order may protect the interests of each person, and it also sets as precedence for a divorce that may follow.

There are various advantages to choosing a legal separation over a divorce:

  • Retention of medical benefits and social security
  • Tax benefits to still being legally married
  • Religious beliefs may conflict with a divorce; this way you can live apart, but remain married
  • Both have time apart to later choose to reconcile or go through with a divorce

Remember, don’t agree to anything in a legal separation that you would not agree to if you were getting divorced. Also from a billable hour’s point of view, a legal separation and divorce are about 95% the same. Some people think that by choosing to be legally separated they will save money on legal fees. They are wrong, it really doesn’t matter which path you choose it will cost about the same.

Contact us for a consultation for your situation to learn the best option for you

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    Divorce FAQs

    Q: What is a divorce?

    A: A divorce is the legal termination of marriage. All states require a spouse to identify a legal reason for requesting a divorce when filing the divorce papers with the court. The reasons given when filing are referred to as the grounds for divorce.

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