What is the Main Difference Between Divorce and Separation?

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Divorce is more common and, therefore, more understood by most of us. The other option that couples have is to file for legal separation, commonly referred to as separate maintenance. The main difference is that if you choose to file for legal separation, you remain married rather than if you were to divorce, and you both are now legally single. Legal issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets are all finalized in both legal separation and divorce. If the couple chooses to legally separate and then divorce at a later date, their process can be expedited as they have determined some of the legal issues ahead of time through the legal separation.

What Are the Benefits of Legal Separation?

Some couples may feel that they have a chance at reconciling in the future and therefore choose to avoid the finality of divorce. There are other reasons that separation can be appealing. If there are military benefits, for example, that both parties wish to keep valid, this can be achieved by legal separation, but not through a divorce. They can preserve tax and federal benefits and possibly insurance benefits by choosing not to divorce as well.

The stability of the children involved may also play a factor in choosing to separate rather than divorce. Divorce can be hard on all families, especially the children. Legal separation can avoid such a huge transition for the children involved.

There may also be firm religious, moral, or societal beliefs that divorce would affect, and therefore a separation for the parties involved can feel more acceptable.

What is a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement is a legally binding contract that stipulates child-related issues, asset division, health insurance, and debts shared by the couple. There is also a section that details whether the separation is permanent or will expire on a certain date. Both parties sign confirming they agree on the terms provided in the contract. Creating these documents can be very complex, as there are several items to determine and agree on before signing. Each party can consult an experienced attorney to assist them in this process.

How Do I File For Divorce or Separation?

You can consult an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney to determine which option is best for you and learn more about how to proceed. There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach that is best for everyone, as all families are different. Working with an attorney who is well-versed in this area can provide you with a perspective you may not yet have thought of and offer clarity.

Contact an experienced family law attorney today at (304) 592-4609 to get your specific questions answered, receive some practical guidance, and begin the process.

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