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What is The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

What is The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

Marital difficulties can be a stressful time in your life. Knowing what legal options you have can help you decide which path is best for your situation. Divorce is not the only action you have if you need the court to help with legal arrangements between you and your spouse. Another option besides divorce is legal separation. Knowing the difference between divorce and legal separation will help you determine which is most appropriate for you.

What is divorce?

Divorce is a legal process that ends a marriage and declares it legally terminated. Unless the parties agree on everything, the process of getting a divorce can be long and detailed because it involves:

  • Dividing assets and debts
  • Deciding child custody arrangements
  • Changing the legal status from married to unmarried individuals.

What is legal separation?

Legal separation is a court-approved arrangement in which a couple decides to stay legally married but live apart. Much like in a divorce, the spouses will agree on a custody arrangement and division of property but will remain legally married.

Why would a couple seek legal separation instead of divorce?

A couple choosing to stay married but living like they are divorced may not make much sense to some people, but in certain situations, legal separation may seem like the better option. A few reasons why spouses will seek legal separation are:

Health care benefits: Especially in the situation that one spouse needs health care benefits because of a disorder or condition, the couple may want to remain married so that the one spouse does not suffer undue stress of paying for separate health care on top of dealing with their illness.

Trial period of separation: If a couple is having a difficult time but are not ready to seek divorce, legal separation can serve as a trial period while also providing legal parameters regarding child custody and division of property. A trial separation allows the couple to see if divorce is what they truly want before they go through the legal process of making a divorce permanent.

Personal or religious views: Some couples may not want to live together anymore but personal or religious convictions may take divorce off the table. Legal separation gives them separate lives without having the stigma of divorce attached to them.

Financial considerations: Similarly, to medical benefits, a married couple may not want to divorce because it could strip one or both of the spouses of financial benefits.  Whether tax benefits, insurance coverage, or other financial advantages that come with maintaining a married status, individuals may want to seek legal separation instead of divorce.

Reconciliation: If there is a chance for a couple to reconcile with each other but they just need a break from married life for a time period, legal separation could be the better option. The couple still has a separation from each other but they don’t have to go through the difficult, emotional, and expensive process of getting a divorce.

If you are in Las Vegas and want to discuss the differences between legal separation and divorce with an experienced divorce attorney, give Warnock Family Law a call today.