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Divorce and Legal Separation: What’s the Difference?

photo of a couple signing a paper in front of a lawyer

photo of a couple signing a paper in front of a lawyerKnowing that your marriage isn’t working anymore may be one of the hardest realizations in one’s marriage. Some couples try to work things out, while others give up altogether. If a couple is in a state of indecision about pursuing a divorce, they may choose the option of legally separating.

But what is the difference between legal separation and divorce, and which one is right for you?

Legal separation and divorce are similar, but not the same.

A legal separation is similar to a divorce in that couples still need to negotiate spousal support and child support, visitation, and custody if they have children. Both processes need legal representation, too. According to a Santa Fe divorce attorney, do-it-yourself separations only work for some cases and have higher risks of making costly mistakes.

The difference between the two is in the legality of the marriage. When a couple chooses legal separation, they are still married in the eyes of the law, but they’ll stop living as a couple.

Meanwhile, a divorce is the absolute dissolution of marriage. This is the option for people who are confident that there’s no fixing their marriage. During the proceedings, all the assets acquired as a couple will be divided. Once the marriage is dissolved, the former spouses may not share legal benefits.

Benefits of a Legal Separation or a Divorce

Since in a legal separation, former couples would still be legally married even though they’re separated, one spouse will remain an eligible beneficiary of the other’s health or insurance benefits. Apart from this, if the couple decides to work out their differences, they can easily get back together without having gone through the tough process of divorce.

The benefits of divorce may be more of a feeling of freedom. Getting out of a marriage that hasn’t been making a person happy is a huge benefit to his or her mental and emotional well being. Plus, the spouses can opt for legal union with another person.

The process of ending a marriage, whether permanently or not, can be stressful. Knowing the subtleties and technicalities of the ways you can end your marriage may help you decide which is right for you.