If you want to divide assets and lead a separate life from your spouse without ending the marriage in divorce, there is another option – legal separation. It’s not used very often, but depending on your case, it could be the best option for you.
Legal separation is very similar to divorce
A couple can use a legal separation to do just about everything they could do in a divorce. They can divide assets, arrange for custody and legally declare that they have separated, even if they continue living together.
But the marriage wouldn’t end, which could have important benefits for some couples, such as for health care or immigration purposes.
The process to get a legal separation is also very similar to a divorce, using the same paperwork and most of the same rules to determine who gets what.
Separation isn’t final, giving people time to think
Many couples may simply need time away from their spouse to think and figure out what they want. A legal separation gives them a way to do that.
If they later want to reconcile, they can do so without having to get remarried. If they don’t, they can still lead separate lives. And if they aren’t sure, they can lead separate lives while they figure it out so long as they act like they are separated.
This flexibility is sometimes the reason people may first try a legal separation instead of a divorce.
If you do want to get divorced, you may have to start from the beginning
The biggest problem with a legal separation is that it won’t legally end your relationship. If you do want to get a divorce at some point and give yourself a clean break, you may have to refile everything.
This can add a lot of time and expense to your case that could have been avoided if the legal process began with a divorce right from the start.
If emotions are running high, it may also mean things have to be renegotiated. That is why a lot of attorneys don’t usually recommend this option except in certain circumstances.
It’s a personal decision more than a legal one
The legal consequences are clear. Courts and lawyers can do a lot of the same things in a legal separation as a divorce, making this more of a personal decision between the couple rather than one based on a list of legal factors.
Not sure which option is best for you?
Contact us to consult a lawyer who will help you understand what you’re getting into. We’re always ready to provide free consultation on the benefits and drawbacks of each choice in your specific case, both from a custodial and financial perspective.