10 Differences Between divorce and legal separation

Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation

Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation

Marriage is a complex relationship, and sometimes couples face difficulties and contemplate separating or divorcing. However, it’s important to understand the differences between divorce and legal separation before making any decisions. In this article, we will explore each option, their uses, and provide a comprehensive table comparing the two.

What is Divorce

Divorce is a legal process that terminates a marriage or marital union. It involves the dissolution of all legal duties and responsibilities between spouses, allowing them to legally separate and establish their lives independently. Divorce can be an emotionally challenging and complicated process.

Examples of Divorce

  • A couple decides to legally end their marriage due to irreconcilable differences.
  • A spouse files for divorce after discovering infidelity.
  • Divorce is sought when a couple realizes they have grown apart and have different goals.

Uses of Divorce

Divorce offers a permanent solution to a troubled marriage. It allows individuals to legally remarry and make a clean break from their previous relationship. Divorces typically involve the division of assets, child custody arrangements, and the determination of financial support.

What is Legal Separation

Legal separation is a legal process that allows couples to live separately without terminating the marriage. It provides guidelines for issues such as spousal support, child custody, and division of property, similar to divorce. However, the couple remains legally married and cannot remarry until a divorce is finalized.

Examples of Legal Separation

  • A couple decides to live separately but prefers to keep their marital status intact for religious or financial reasons.
  • Legal separation is chosen as a trial period to assess the possibility of reconciling the marriage.
  • One spouse wants to maintain access to the other spouse’s health insurance coverage.

Uses of Legal Separation

Legal separation provides a middle ground for couples who may not be ready for a divorce. It allows them to live apart and address financial and custody concerns, without completely severing the legal ties. In some cases, legal separation can be a step towards reconciliation.

Differences Table

Difference Area Divorce Legal Separation
Marital Status Terminates the marriage. Couple remains legally married.
Remarriage Parties can remarry after the divorce is finalized. Parties cannot remarry without converting separation into a divorce.
Legal Obligations All legal obligations between spouses are terminated. Obligations such as financial support remain intact.
Religious Considerations Not necessary to obtain approval from religious institutions. May be required to obtain religious approval.
Health Insurance Benefits Parties may lose access to shared health insurance benefits. One party may retain access to the other’s health insurance benefits.
Division of Property Assets are typically divided during the divorce process. Assets can be divided, but the couple remains legally married.
Custody Decisions Custody decisions are made during divorce proceedings. Custody arrangements can be established, but the couple remains married.
Financial Support Spouses may be required to pay alimony or child support. Spouses may still be financially responsible for each other.
Decision Reversal Difficult and time-consuming to reverse a divorce. Parties can resume their marital relationship without legal barriers.
Emotional Impact Often perceived as a more final end to a marriage. Allows for a period of trial separation and potential reconciliation.


In summary, divorce and legal separation offer couples different paths to address problems within their marriage. Divorce allows for a complete dissolution of the relationship, while legal separation provides a temporary arrangement while maintaining the legal bond. Factors such as remarriage, religious considerations, and the permanence of the decision differ between the two options.

People Also Ask

  1. Can a legal separation lead to a divorce?
  2. Yes, legal separation can eventually lead to a divorce. While the couple remains legally married during separation, they can convert it into a divorce if they decide to terminate the marriage permanently.

  3. Is legal separation cheaper than divorce?
  4. Legal separation and divorce both involve legal expenses. However, divorce proceedings often tend to be more complex and time-consuming, potentially resulting in higher costs.

  5. What are the advantages of legal separation over divorce?
  6. Legal separation allows couples to maintain certain benefits, such as health insurance coverage, and provides an opportunity for reconciliation without the permanent commitment of a divorce.

  7. Can I date during a legal separation?
  8. In legal separation, the couple remains married, and the decision to date during this period may vary based on individual circumstances and agreements.

  9. How long does a legal separation last?
  10. The duration of legal separation varies. It can last for an agreed-upon trial period or continue indefinitely until the couple either gets a divorce or reconciles.

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