In many ways, legal separation and divorce are similar. Both signal the end of a romantic relationship and limit the impact both parties can have on each other. A separation agreement, much like a divorce settlement, covers:
- The division of marital debts and assets
- Child custody and visitation rights
- Child support
However, the main difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that the couple is still legally married once a separation is granted. This might seem confusing to those seeking a divorce—why would someone want to be married to someone with whom they no longer have a romantic relationship?
Benefits and Drawbacks of Separation
While permanent legal separation doesn’t appeal to everyone, it is the best choice in some situations. Some reasons that people might choose legal separation include:
- Avoiding the stigma of divorce or having to tell family members about the divorce
- One party wants to reconcile—note, though, that legal separation is still a serious choice and not one that should be used if reconciliation is an option
- The couple follows a religion that forbids divorce
- One party has a moral objection to divorce
- One party will remain a stay-at-home parent or cannot get their own health insurance, so they must remain married to stay on their ex-partner’s health insurance
There are also several negative aspects of a separation. To start, it is rarely the last step for most couples. Both people can date after separating, but they cannot remarry while legally separated. Many couples who split up swear off remarriage, claiming they’ll never come back from the damage caused by their first marriage. However, many people move on from this and are eventually able to date seriously.
If one party decides to remarry, they will need to go back to court to ask the separation to be converted into a divorce. This can be inconvenient for ex-partners who have already gone through the process once.
Additionally, a legal separation does still leave the ex-partners tied together in some ways. This can be an issue if one partner wants a clean split.
Cost Differences Between Divorce and Separation Cases
Legal separations are not as common as divorce, and since they do not end the marriage, they are more complicated than a divorce. As a result, a legal separation may be more expensive than a divorce. Of course, this depends on the specific details of the case.
On top of that, most legal separations do eventually turn into divorces when one partner wants to remarry. This means that the involved parties have to pay first for the legal separation, and then again for the divorce. As a result, the entire process is much more expensive.
Making the Best Choice for Your Needs
Don’t let the potential cost difference dissuade you from a legal separation if it fits your needs in other ways. There are situations in which legal separation truly is the best option for a family, and if that includes you, it’s time to talk to a family law attorney. An attorney can help you understand the full legal implications of both options and assist you as you move forward.
Get Started with Coumanis & York
Whether you end up going with a separation or divorce, Coumanis & York is ready to guide you through this process and protect your best interests. The first step is a thorough consultation, where we’ll learn more about your goals and what you hope to achieve with a separation or divorce. Schedule a consultation now by reaching out online or calling us at 251-990-3083.