Divorce vs. Legal Separation: Learn the Basic Facts

Deciding between divorce vs. legal separation starts with knowing the facts.

The news is filled with updates on celebrity relationships, giving us lots of insight into divorce vs. legal separation. Often times, you’ll hear about a couple who lived separately for months before deciding to get divorced. Other times, couples seem to head right for divorce.

What is the difference between divorce vs. legal separation? Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each can help you make the right decision on what is best for your family and/or relationship.

What’s the Difference?

A physical separation means you and your spouse simply decide to live apart. Couples may use a physical separation as an informal arrangement to cool off and give themselves time to figure out their next steps.

But physical separation differs from legal separation. A legal separation means a change is made to your marital status. In order to obtain a legal separation, you need to file documents with the court. A legal separation agreement can reduce the risks for each person while handling issues such as dividing assets and debts and setting up child support and visitation rights

A divorce is a complete and final legal dissolution of your marriage. After the divorce is finalized, each person is allowed to marry someone else after a waiting period.

 Why Choose Divorce vs. Legal Separation

A legal separation can take as long and be as expensive as a divorce since you must file paperwork and then wait for months for it to go through. So, why do couples choose legal separation rather than a divorce? Some couples feel a legal separation gives them a better chance for a reconciliation.

Some choose legal separation because of religious or moral beliefs about divorce. Since a legal separation allows a couple to continue filing a joint tax return, this can also be a benefit. Others may choose legal separation due to the potential benefit of continued health insurance coverage, says Time. In comparison, once you’re divorced, you cannot stay on your ex-spouse’s health insurance plan, according to Forbes.

Deciding between a legal separation or divorce could come down to finances. Click here to read the Forbes article, Legal Separation or Divorce: Which is Better Financially.

Next Steps

Visiting an attorney to find out which one is best for your situation and needs may help you make the best decision. Click here to visit our attorney referral page for a list of Family Law attorneys.

You may be able to file your own legal separation documents for non-contested separations. We offer an instant download of a Legal Separation Kit, Non-Contested.

We also offer a Divorce Forms Kit without Children as well as a Divorce Forms Kit with Children for do-it-yourselfers.


This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *