If your marriage is suffering, you and your spouse may want to consider separation. This is an option if you’re not sure whether you want to divorce. However, if you decide to legally separate, you and your spouse can live in separate homes and still remain married.
A legal separation is a better option than divorce if you aren’t sure you want to get divorced (Source: https://baderscott.com/atlanta-family-law-lawyer/). After all, divorce is a huge step. If you have any doubts at all, it may be better to separate, at least temporarily. Separation offers certain legal protections to you so you can spend some time apart figuring out what your next step should be.
It is important to note that many of the same issues you’ll need to address in a divorce will be addressed if you separate. This means your interests can be protected until you decide that you want to restore your marriage or get a divorce.
If you decide to divorce after legal separation, the judge will conclude that both you and your spouse agree to end the marriage and will maintain this sentiment throughout the divorce process. This is why it is important to establish a separation agreement that will work for you long-term.
If you’re fairly certain that you and your partner want to end your marriage, it may be suitable to separate first. Even if you know the marriage is over, there are certain situations in which separation is better than divorce.
The Difference Between Divorce And Separation
The main difference between getting a divorce and establishing legal separation is that divorce is the end of your marriage. Once you are divorced, both you and your former spouse are legally permitted to remarry. When you are separated, you are no longer living together but are still legally married.
When you decide to separate, you and your spouse will receive a court order granting the separation. The order contains your responsibilities and rights while you are separated and settles any legal issues pertaining to your marriage. You and your spouse will sign documents concerning the distribution of your assets and property. You’ll also sign paperwork regarding, child support, alimony, child support, and legal fees.
When Is Separation the Better Choice?
If you are legally separated from your spouse, you are still married. Your marital status can be beneficial to both you and your spouse. These benefits include:
- Retaining benefits on the health insurance plan you share with your husband or wife, which is especially advantageous if the insurance policy is in your spouse’s name. If you divorce, you will likely lose your insurance coverage.
- Maintaining the tenets of your religion if your faith forbids divorce or has conflicting views on ending a marriage. If you wish to live apart from your spouse, legal separation allows you to do this while still maintaining the guidelines of your religion.
- Retaining military benefits if your spouse is a member of the Armed Forces. Because of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, you will still receive benefits if you’ve been married for at least a decade.
- Maintaining specific Social Security benefits. This applies to you if you and your spouse have been married for 10 years or longer.
- Filing joint tax returns. When you divorce, you will have to file taxes separately.
More On Legal Separation
Separation can give you the time you need to resolve your conflicts and decide you want to continue the marriage or go your separate ways permanently. It is also important to note that the rules for using joint bank accounts will also be established in your separation agreement.
You can request that some clear guidelines are enforced concerning which spouse will pay for the mortgage and bills in the marital home if necessary. Or, you can request that the joint account be closed so you can open a separate checking or savings account.
It is best to discuss the idea of separation or divorce with a family law attorney. Once the stipulations of the separation are in place, this can help you decide whether restoring your marriage or getting a divorce is right for you.