On average in the U.S., more than 780,000 couples every year decide to get a divorce.
While it’s never an easy decision to end a marriage, in many cases, it’s ultimately the best choice for everyone involved.
If you’ve gotten to the point where you no longer want to stay married, there are a lot of decisions you need to make. Including, whether you want to actually get divorced.
That’s right, some couples choose to split up without a divorce, instead opting for a legal separation.
Keep reading to learn more about the different aspects of separation vs divorce so you can come to the best decision for your family.
Understanding the Differences of Each Option
Before you can decide how to move forward with ending your marriage, you must first have a basic understanding of the differences between legal separation vs divorce.
Here’s a closer look at what you can expect when getting separated vs divorced.
What Is a Legal Separation?
The most important thing to remember is that if you choose a legal separation, your marriage isn’t technically ended.
This means that if you later meet someone special, you can’t get remarried with a legal separation status.
You’re also still considered married in the eyes of the law. This impacts your tax status. And, unless you update your will, any assets you have at the time of your death, will go to your legal spouse.
However, just like in divorce proceedings, a legal separation requires plenty of communication and cooperation between spouses.
During the legal separation process, you and your spouse must come to an agreement on several issues, including:
- Child custody arrangements
- Child visitation arrangements
- Division of assets
- Division of debts
- Spousal support
- Child support
The agreements you come to will be legally binding, just as they would in a divorce.
If you and your spouse no longer want to be together, but don’t want to make it a permanent decision, a legal separation can be a great option.
What Is a Divorce?
A divorce, on the other hand, is a legal end to your marriage. Similar to a legal separation, you should prepare to come to an agreement on all the items listed above.
As the divorce process tends to be more contentious than the separation process, you should plan to hire a divorce lawyer to help you through the proceedings.
Unlike in a legal separation, you are considered unmarried at the end of a divorce. This means you’re free to remarry and you can file your tax returns with the “single” status.
And remember, divorce a permanent choice. If you and your spouse change your minds and want to get back together again, you’d have to be legally married for a second time.
In the event of reconciliation after legal separation, you don’t have to marry each other again, since your marriage never technically ended in the eyes of the law.
Benefits of a Legal Separation
So, if you and your spouse no longer want to be together, why wouldn’t you want to go through with a final divorce? The truth is that there are some benefits of a legal separation that are worth considering.
It’s Not Permanent
Perhaps the biggest benefit of separation vs divorce is that it’s not a permanent choice. Oftentimes, tensions are high when deciding to end a relationship, and reconciliation later is possible.
In those cases, it’s nice that there’s an option to restore your marriage easily. But, it also works the other way as well. If you decide to separate instead of divorce, you can always change your mind and turn the separation agreement into a divorce instead.
This makes the divorce process easier because it just requires some additional paperwork.
There Are Lifestyle Benefits
As you know, there are some benefits to be married, aside from the relationship aspects. Spouses can be on each other’s health insurance policies and qualify for tax and social security benefits that single people cannot.
If you don’t want to lose those lifestyle benefits, but you don’t want to be with your spouse any longer, a legal separation can give you the best of both worlds.
Benefits of a Divorce
Of course, if you’re in a toxic marriage, any of those benefits aren’t worth the stress of staying legally married to your spouse. Here are a few benefits of getting a divorce instead.
There’s a Sense of Finality
If you’ve decided you want your marriage to end, and there’s no chance you’ll ever want to change your mind, divorce is the best option.
This removes the feeling of being in limbo, which helps many people feel like they can move on to the next chapter in their lives.
There Are Fewer Restrictions
Depending on the state in which you live, there might be regulations preventing you from starting a new relationship if you’re only separated.
If part of the reason you want to get divorced is that you want to explore new relationships, then getting a divorce can help you do that, with no strings attached to your old partner.
What If Spouses Disagree on Separation vs Divorce?
If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement on whether to move forward with legal separation or a divorce, the court will move forward with a divorce.
So, unless you can come to an agreement, legal separation isn’t an option for you.
Make the Best Choice for Your Family
Only you and your spouse can make the best choice for your family in terms of separation vs divorce. Hopefully, now that you know more about how each one works and the benefits of each, you can have confidence moving forward with your decision.
For other helpful lifestyle information like this, be sure to browse our other articles.