When a person wants to dissolve a marriage, he or she will often seek to first enter into a legal separation before ending the relationship, but the divorce is often the next step in these situations. There are certain legal differences that are important for both spouses to understand when seeking to engage in one of these processes.

What Is Legal Separation?

When two parties are unable to continue through a marriage, they may choose to legally separate before ending the relationship. Generally, this involves contacting a lawyer, the courts or simply filing the matter legally. However, the legal separation can take place in the courtroom before a judge to ensure the entire matter is a legal process before any further action is taken by either party. The separation itself usually divides the households into two different locations and separates income and some property. However, it does not end the marriage or lead to custody battles unless the divorce is next.

What Is a Legal Divorce?

When the two spouses are unable to continue with the marriage because of conflict or differences, they may choose to divorce legally through the state of residence. If one moves out of state, the spouses will need to decide in which state to divorce. Starting the process usually requires a lawyer, the divorce petition documents and a plan of action. If there are children, assets and debts and property, the process can take some time to conclude. The resolution may even require additional help through an alternate divorce resolution or an ADR. The hired lawyer generally will explain options available and which is best to start.

The Choice

Before two spouses decide to end the relationship through divorce completely and irrevocably, they may decide to legally separate first. The choice is what determines how they both proceed. If they separate, a lawyer and the courts are often not necessary at first. However, if both spouses decide that divorce is inevitable, they can both hire a lawyer to start the procedure. Then, the separation can become the legal process by the state such as when there is a certain amount of time necessary before a divorce can start. The separation time will support the dissolution of the relationship.

The Key Difference

There are several differences between separation and divorce, but the key difference between the two processes is that the two spouses are still legally married when they proceed through separation. Even if they live in different households, different cities or states and share custody, they are still by the state and law in a marriage. A divorce is the end of the marriage and dissolves the relationship legally in the state where the process concludes. Generally, in most states, the two share a connection because the state will require a certain time for the parties to go through a separation for a divorce to start, but it is not until the end of the divorce process that the spouses are no longer married.

Why Some Remain Only Separated

There are numerous reasons for a married couple to divorce. However, many will remain in the legal relationship even if living apart because of certain reasons. The difference between the two processes is often why the couple will remain married by the state but not actually live together anymore. The most important reason for some is religion. Religious or moral reasons connect to a particular faith. Staying true to the religion is crucial for these individuals, and they refuse to proceed through a divorce because of it. The faith may not believe in divorce or will not let the person remarry.

Other reasons generally stem from benefits such as governmental or health that could include insurance or Social Security. Tax benefits are also important for both parties to file jointly to receive better deductions. Another key factor in the differences legally is that the spouses are still married. They are in a legal relationship by the state, and if there is any chance of reconciliation, they must remain legally married. This detail ensures that there is no division of assets or debts or the division of property. Children will not suffer child custody battles and the support remains a family chosen process.

Legal Separation or Divorce Support

No matter what state the couple lives in, the two parties will need a lawyer if going through a divorce. It is important to consult with legal professionals if separation if possible to determine how to carefully proceed.

Provided by HG.org