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Legal Separation vs. Divorce: What Should I Choose?

legal separation and divorce

Ending a marriage is a difficult decision for the couple. Many factors must be considered, such as who gets what (dividing your community properties), visitation and custody rights of the children, parenting plan, spousal support, and so on. So, if you want to leave your marriage, you need to know what steps to follow, whether you want to file for divorce or just live apart.

I suggest you sit down and read this article, which will explain the difference between legal separation and divorce, as well as their benefits and drawbacks. Our family law attorneys in San Luis Obispo can further explain which option is best for you.

What is divorce?

legal separation and divorce

You can apply for divorce if you wish to end your marriage completely and legally. Divorce essentially implies that you are legally ending your marriage with your partner. This means that you are now free to remarry.

If you decide to file for divorce, you will need the assistance of a divorce or family lawyer during the divorce process.

What are the different types of divorce?

  • Uncontested Divorce – This essentially signifies that the couple has jointly decided to end their marriage. This implies that there is no disagreement between the two parties about who gets what in the marriage (division of marital properties), their assets and obligations, and, most crucially, custody rights.
  • Contested Marriage – This is the inverse of the preceding one. In this case, the two parties disagree or are unable to reach an agreement on issues such as financial or spousal support, child custody, and so on. This type of divorce is often expensive and time-consuming for both parties. Typically, it proceeds to trial and may necessitate the assistance of a divorce attorney.
  • No-fault divorce – This type of divorce does not require the spouse applying for divorce to demonstrate that his or her partner is at blame for the marriage’s demise. Additionally, couples who file under this form of divorce may be required by some states to live apart for a period of time before either party may apply for divorce.

Most of the time, the common reasons of spouses who file a divorce under the no-fault divorce are either “irreconcilable differences” or an “irreparable breakdown of the marriage.”

It is important to know if the state you lived in is a “no-fault divorce” state. If you happen to live in California, this is not applicable to you. This means that the judge will not take marital fault into account in his/her decisions. 

  • Fault Divorce – This is the opposite of the former—spouses who seek for divorce under this provision blame their partner for the dissolution of their marriage. In this case, one party alleges that his or her spouse committed matrimonial offenses. Here are some instances of marital offenses:
    • Abusive
    • Adultery
    • Abandonment
    • Physical incapacity to engage in sexual activity, if this condition existed before to marriage and was concealed.
  • Default Divorce – This type of divorce allows the other party to file for a divorce without the presence or involvement of the other party in the legal proceedings. This kind of divorce is not that popular because this can only be used if the other party is unreachable. Most of the time, courts will need you to demonstrate that you used every available method to contact him/her about the divorce.
  • Summary Divorce – This is more practicable for couples with few assets and no children. This type of divorce is less expensive, requires less divorce paperwork, requires fewer court appearances, and so on.  

Overall, regardless of the form of divorce you and your spouse decide to pursue, it is critical that you get the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer who can explore the repercussions of each type of divorce with you in greater detail.

What is legal separation?

In terms of status, this is the polar opposite of divorce. When a spouse applies for legal separation, you are not legally dissolving your marriage status. So, if you’re filling out a document and it asks if you’re married, you have to respond yes.

You will still need to divide your marital assets, agree on child custody rights, and other issues in this section. This is typically used by couples who are attempting or may be attempting to reconcile. However, if such reconciliation is not possible, they may apply for divorce.

What are the other types of separation?

  • Trial Separation – Couples that desire to spend time apart from one another use this type of separation. The pair should decide on a time period or length of separation. This type of separation does not need the use of a courtroom or the services of a lawyer.

The couple should work out an informal agreement on issues like who pays the bills, who will live separately, where their children will live, and so on. 

It is crucial to understand that trial separation is not the same as divorce or legal separation. This has no legal consequences on the status of your marriage in any way. Couples may, however, petition for legal separation or divorce after the trial separation has concluded.

  • Permanent Separation – This kind of separation is often used by couples who have no intention to reconcile. The effects of permanent separation will vary from where you live. Some states where couples have permanently separated will affect their obligations to debts.

Why choose divorce?

  • If you are in an unhappy marriage. More often than not, couples in an unhappy marriage tend to be emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. If you file for a divorce, it gives you a way out of the marriage; you can sever your connections totally (unless it is needed for the agreed parenting plan for your children), find someone new, and more importantly, remarry someone.  
  • If your partner is verbally or physically violent to you. Most of the time, people whose partner has abused them want out from their marriage and that kind of horrible life. Divorce ensures that abused persons have a way out if something terrible occurs to them.

Unfortunately, in certain countries, divorce is illegal, making it harder to move on when you are a victim of abuse since you still have links to your partner.

  • You can enjoy your newfound freedom. By divorcing, you are releasing yourself from an unhealthy relationship. Essentially, you may do anything you want since divorce releases you from any marital duties.

Why choose legal separation?

  • If reconciliation is still a possibility. Couples who are unsure whether they want to end their relationship often seek legal obligations. There are times that both partners need time away from each other. This is to guarantee that when you decide to dissolve your marriage, you are making the appropriate decision and not acting on an emotional impulse.
  • You are still entitled to some benefits. One advantage of legal separation is that you can continue to get benefits such as Social Security payments, health insurance that includes the other spouse, and so on. This is to guarantee that you still have a comfortable and stable life even if you are separated.
  • If your religion prohibits divorce. There are some religions that prohibit divorce because they see marriage as sacred. If this occurs, legal separation is a suitable alternative for you since this does not necessarily change your marital status, and you may still enjoy some of the benefits of a divorce, such as sharing marital assets.
  • Depending on your state, this might be the first step in obtaining a divorce. Some states require spouses who want to divorce to first go through legal separation for a set period of time.

Contact an experienced divorce lawyer now!

Ending a marriage is a struggle that should not be undertaken alone. If anything like this happens to you, it is critical that you seek the advice of a family lawyer or divorce attorney who has extensive expertise with cases like this.

We have experienced divorce lawyers on staff at 805 Law Group. We don’t merely work a case; we aim to provide a meaningful answer for a person in need – and that person is you. Allow us to assist you in this chapter of your life because no one should have to face this alone. Schedule a consultation with one of our helpful family attorneys today.