What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation?

Table of Contents

Divorce and legal separation can be complex subjects to navigate. Emotionally charged and undoubtedly life-changing, these decisions require a depth of understanding and legal awareness. This comprehensive guide is here to shed light on the similarities, differences, and significant considerations you need to make when choosing between these two legal courses.

What Are Divorce and Legal Separation?

divorce vs legal separation

Before delving into the details, let’s set a clear definition of our main subjects: divorce and legal separation.

Defining Divorce

A divorce signifies the legal termination of a marriage. It’s an official process that dissolves the bonds of matrimony between two individuals, ending their marital status.

Understanding Legal Separation

On the other hand, legal separation is a process where a married couple legally separates without officially ending the marriage. Here, the couple lives separately but remains legally married.

The Similarities of Divorce and Legal Separation

It’s no surprise that many find the processes of divorce and legal separation bewildering. They’re strikingly similar, both ultimately culminating in a legal decree—one being a decree of divorce and the other a decree of separation.

The Process

Both divorce and legal separation involve a series of identical steps. From determining the marital estate to dividing assets, the process is similar. Regardless of whether you’re divorcing or separating, you will need to navigate through this shared legal framework.

Legal Separation Is Less Common

Although these legal processes are alike, legal separations are rather rare. They occur occasionally when it makes sense from a financial standpoint, particularly when the parties aren’t looking to get remarried.

Why Choose Legal Separation?

Legal separations sometimes happen when couples are later in their stage of life, often due to specific reasons such as pension issues. It can be beneficial for both parties to remain legally married rather than getting a divorce. However, it’s important to note that this path isn’t common—most people generally opt for a divorce.

Divorce Is More Common

By and large, most people elect to pursue a divorce rather than a separation. In my practice, I’ve often seen individuals who initially chose a separation decree, only to proceed with a divorce later on due to changes in life circumstances.

Why Choose Divorce?

While you can choose either, it’s crucial to remember that your decision should reflect your unique situation and future plans. For many, the desire to remarry or the necessity to move on from a dissolved relationship may make divorce the more fitting option.

Make an Informed Decision About Your Unique Situation

divorce vs legal separation

Navigating the murky waters of divorce and legal separation is no small task. But with knowledge and understanding, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and life situation.

Whether you choose to untangle your lives through divorce or opt for a less common legal separation, remember: the path you choose should be the one that best suits your unique circumstances and future plans. After all, these life-altering decisions are about ensuring the best outcome for you, even when life seems complex. Contact CJB Law today to speak with one of our divorce attorneys.