Deciding Between Divorce And Separation
We’re all familiar with couples who decide to live separately for awhile before actually getting divorced. And typically, these couples use this “trial separation” to decide whether or not they want to pursue formal legal action.
The key difference between legal separation and divorce is that when you are separated, you are still legally married to your spouse even though you are living apart. If you later decide to get divorced, you’ll have to go through the legal steps necessary to terminate your marriage.
Below are a list of common reasons that couples often choose divorce, legal separation, or both.Be aware that every situation is different and involves complex legal questions.
Reasons for Choosing Legal Separation
Children:The idea of a divorce can be difficult for children. Some parents choose to legally separate and postpone a divorce until after their children leave the home or until their family is better equipped to deal with the significant lifestyle changes that come with a divorce.
Uncertainty: If a couple is not certain they want to end their marriage, a legal separation may be a good starting point. In the event that the couple decides to reconcile in the near or distant future, a legal separation can be reversed, whereas the same is not true regarding a divorce.With a separation, there is no need to “remarry” because the marriage was never dissolved.
Personal Preference or Religion: For some couples, a legal separation is most appropriate when neither of the spouses plan to remarry in the near future, or they simply do not wish to fully dissolve the marriage. Sometimes couples choose a separation because they wish to live separately, but want to maintain the covenant vows made on their wedding day.
Reasons for Choosing Divorce
Certain Breakdown: If a couple is certain their relationship is over and they have no plans to reconcile they may consider a divorce their best option.
Dating and Remarriage:When a couple is legally separated they are not free to remarry. If either party is planning to date or remarry soon after separating, a divorce is may be their best option. In addition, some states consider relationships, dating or intercourse with someone other than your spouse during the legal separation an affair or adultery. State laws regarding adultery vary and repercussions punishment can be severe or costly. For this reason, it may be best to choose a divorce if either party intends to date.
A divorce attorney with experience handling legal separations can explain to you the pros and cons of legal separation vs. divorce. You should also consider talking to a financial planner or accountant to help understand the financial ramifications of legal separation.