Why Would You Get a Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce?

legal marriage separation vs divorce

Learn More About Important Legal Matters

When people say “til death do us part,” they expect to stay together for a lifetime. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. A recent article by Time Magazine indicated that the current divorce rate in the United States is about 39 percent. But if your marriage is on the rocks, divorce isn’t the only option. Many people opt for legal marriage separation instead of divorce. What’s the difference between legal separation vs dissolution of marriage? Are there benefits of one over another? Keep reading to find out, and if you need legal assistance, keep in mind that the attorneys at People's Justice LLC are just a phone call away at 855-577-7673.

Legal Separation of Marriage vs. Divorce

If your marriage is struggling, you might be considering separation or divorce. Legal marriage separation is a court order that mandates the rights and responsibilities of a couple that remains married yet lives under different roofs. In a divorce, the spouses are no longer married. While this is the most obvious difference, there are other ways a legal separation differs from a divorce.

  • Marital status. You’re still married under legal separation. After a divorce, you are not legally married and are free to marry someone else.
  • Debts/liabilities. In a divorce, debts are handled during the dissolution process. In a legal separation, spouses may still be responsible for each other’s debts.
  • Health care and other benefits. Social security benefits, which generally terminate during a divorce, are retained during a legal separation. Furthermore, you cannot drop your spouse from your health insurance if you’re legally separated.
  • Taxes. Legal separation allows you to claim married filing jointly on income taxes. Filing jointly affords individuals certain tax breaks that divorcees don’t get.
  • Decision-making. If you’re considering legal separation, keep in mind that your spouse will still be your next of kin. As such, they will be able to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf.
  • Property rights. Each spouse preserves legal rights to property benefits upon the death of the other in a legal marriage separation. A divorce extinguishes these rights.
  • Lengthiness of process. Divorces and legal separations can take the same amount of time. However, if you’re wondering how long do you have to be separated to be legally separated, in certain states, you can be legally separated on the same day you and your spouse sign a settlement agreement.
  • Reconciliation. If there is any hope of reconciliation, a legal marriage separation might be the way to go. If you opt for divorce and want legal reunification, you’d have to remarry.

What Qualifies as Legally Separated?

To qualify as a legal separation, partners must have a court decision. The court decision details things such as how much time the children will spend with each parent and how much child support one parent must pay to the other. Whether spousal support is required and how property will be divided is also part of the court decision that occurs during a legal separation. Many people wonder if you can still live in the same house and be legally separated, and the answer is “yes.” In fact, there may be many benefits to remaining under the same roof. Nevertheless, to minimize a gray area, it’s important to file for legal separation even if you plan on staying in the same house with your spouse. A separation judgment provides clarity by defining the terms by which you’ll live apart.

woman pushing away wedding ring while man signs papers

What should you not do during separation?

Perhaps you’ve decided that a separation is the best move for you and your family. If that’s the case, there are several mistakes that many separated individuals regularly make. Avoiding these mistakes during a separation could lead to a joyous reunification or, at the very least, a peaceful divorce.

  • Don’t publicize your separation. A divorce or separation is a personal thing. Post it on social media, and suddenly everyone will have an opinion on what you should do and how you should do it. Outside pressures and rumors can make matters worse and perpetuate a divorce. Keep your situation private, and only discuss it with trusted family members and friends.
  • Don’t jump into a rebound relationship. If you decide to separate, it’s important not to jump into a rebound relationship. Instead, use this time for self-assessment and to reflect on your goals and your marriage.
  • Don’t shoulder the expenses of your partner. Continuing to pay your spouse’s bills during a separation is an honorable thing. Unfortunately, by footing the bill of your spouse, you are building an alimony case for them because it’s going to look as if you’re fully capable of supporting them. Instead, it’s better to determine who will pay which bills. 

Contact A Professional

There are many reasons couples choose separation instead of divorce. Religion, financial reasons, and uncertainty about the future of the relationship are just a few reasons people prefer separation. If you are contemplating legal marriage separation in Philadelphia, PA, reach out to our attorneys at 855-577-7673. We can provide marriage legal separation forms, help you draft a parenting agreement, and anything else you may need. It’s your future. Take charge and reach out to us today.