The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce

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The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce

There is a time in some marriages where the couple feels as though there is nothing more in their marriage that can be done to fix their seemingly impossible circumstances. Some couples decide that even though there may not be a solution to their circumstances right now, they should consider their options. Some opt for legal separation, while others choose to proceed with divorce. What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?

Legal Separation

A legal separation is a legal agreement through the courts between the married couple, establishing child support/visitations, alimony or spousal support, and the division of responsibilities of assets and debts. In many cases these obligations remain the same as they would in the marriage, regarding children and finances, since couples typically separate with the intention of working their issues out. With this arrangement, one spouse remains eligible for coverage under the other spouse’s health and insurance benefits. This option is intended to allow the couple time to see what life would be like without each other and gives both parties the ability to either work on the marriage by having some time apart and easing back into reconciliation, or to begin the process of ending it. It’s also important to note that the terms of a Legal Separation also form a precedent for future divorce proceedings.


A divorce is the action set forth by one or both of the parties of the marriage pursuing the dissolution of it, ending the marriage before either partner’s death. The legal and financial responsibilities are similar to that of legal separation, albeit more permanent, where there is a division of the assets and debts, as well as a division with child support and visitation, financial responsibilities acquired together as a couple, and spousal support. If both parties choose to stop their divorce, there is a form that is sometimes called the “Notice of Revocation”, but it also goes by other names depending on where you live or where the divorce proceedings are held.

The Choice of Permanently Ending the Marriage or Reconciling

Marriages, like any relationship comes with its complications and trials. Deciding what to do about it does take heavy consideration, weighing all of the options and deciding which one is truly right for you. As a couple, you may be able to work through the issues, regardless of whose fault it is, by admitting to their part in the problems and finding a way to fix it together. There may be some marriages that need to end for reasons known to the couple making it impossible to remain together. Whichever option you decide, it’s best to speak with a family lawyer about the specific implications of your decision.

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