When trying to decide on ending your relationship with your spouse, you may assume that divorce is your only option. While divorce is the endgame when people contemplate splitting up, it is not always the only route. Some states allow for the parties to get legally separated and others may require this before granting a divorce. What are the differences between the two, and why would you choose one over the other? Consider the following information before making a decision.
Legal Separation Is Not a Divorce
Two people may choose to legally separate for a variety of reasons. Some states, like North Carolina, require the parties to live apart before beginning divorce proceedings, and temporary orders for child support, spousal support, and child visitation may be entered. However, in this instance, property and assets do not yet get divided. When two people legally separate, they negotiate all of the same issues as they do in divorce proceedings including property and asset division. However, the end is not the same as the parties are still legally married. A divorce legally severs the marriage and enables the parties to remarry other people as a result.
Reasons for Legal Separation Versus Divorce
A couple who has been married for an extended period with no children may choose a legal separation for several reasons. Some of the most popular include:
- One spouse needs access to the other’s health insurance benefits
- A spouse is nearing retirement and receiving retirement, pension or Social Security benefits
- There are tax benefits to remaining married
- Reconciliation is still possible
- The stress of divorce is something to be avoided
- Religious views of divorce
Those spouses wishing to get a legal separation to continue sharing health insurance or receiving retirement benefits may want to consult an attorney to ensure it will still be possible. Some insurance companies and pension plans consider a legal separation the same as a divorce. Remember when legally separated, you and your spouse have to file documentation indicating you are no longer living together and splitting your assets. Therefore, these court filings and the final order allowing the separation will be accessible to anyone who looks.
Divorce may seem stressful, complicated and challenging to get through, so spouses may choose legal separation believing later getting a divorce will be more comfortable. You will still have to go through the entire process for dissolving the marriage even if you have already been granted a legal separation.
Negotiating the details of either a separation or a divorce can be a stressful prospect. It is wise to consult with divorce lawyers in Rockville, MD to get the best advice for your situation.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and legal separation vs. divorce.