Understanding the Difference Between a Legal Separation and Divorce

Divorce Lawyer

When a marriage ends, it can be hard to define. There can be an immediate draw to divorce and dissolution, or there can be a period of contemplation and trial. A divorce is finite in the eyes of the law, and once a judgment is passed, the marriage is dissolved. However, some people and even some municipalities wish to pump the brakes on ending nuptial agreements. Therefore, legal separations were designed and offered to those couples who wanted to test the waters of divorce, but there are other reasons for separation as well, making it essential to understand the similarities and differences between both legal terms.

Similarities

When it comes to legal separation and divorce, there are several similarities. For instance, both require the couple to live separately. Also, finances are severed, making each party responsible for there financial well-being. A legal separation can also provide room for decisions on spousal and child support, visitation, division of marital debts and assets. Essentially, everything that would occur during a divorce also occurs during a legal separation. The purpose of both a divorce and separation is to create a division in the lives of the married couple, to provide boundaries and rules that both must adhere to and respect.

Differences

While a separation looks incredibly similar to a divorce, which it is, the critical difference is that the marriage stands. Therefore, neither spouse can establish another relationship or marry another individual. On paper, the marriage is intact. Thus, while a separation is a way to test the waters of divorce, it is not divorce. If you wish to remarry, then a divorce must be filed and completed.

Reasons for Legal Separation Over Divorce

While it may seem strange to separate and not divorce, there are several reasons a person may choose it over full dissolution. Some people have religious beliefs that prevent them from following through with a divorce, while others are not sure that they want a divorce, meaning that they want to try counseling first. The point is that some people are not ready to make such a definitive decision about their marriage.

Requirement on the Path to Divorce

Also, in some states, a couple cannot get divorced until they have been separated for a certain amount of time. Some jurisdictions require a waiting period of six months to a year where the couple must live separately. In these areas, couples may be required to attempt to resolve their differences through therapy before being granted a divorce.

Legal separations are equivalent to divorces in many ways except through the dissolution of marriage. If you are interested in a legal separation or divorce, contact a family lawyer in your area to discuss your options.

 

Source: Tampa, FL Divorce Lawyer, The Mckinney Law Group

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