When two parties decide to become one through marriage, most do not do so with the expectation of not staying together for the rest of their lives. However, in some instances, spouses may feel that the union should end.
For those who are not completely sure, or those who have unique situations and obligations, a legal separation may be a better option than divorce. To determine if this is the case, it is important to understand the difference between the two.
Similar but different
Legal separation and divorce are similar in that they help to separate two lives that were once one. They both hold legal weight and are therefore enforceable by the courts. However, they do have one major difference. Divorce creates a permanent division between the two parties, while a legal separation does not. The parties may choose to reinstate a marriage after a stint of separation, whereas a couple would have to get re-married after divorce.
As a form of alternative dispute resolution, a legal separation does not hold the same weight as a marriage, in that it is not final. For those couples who think there may be a chance to work through their issues, a legal separation can allow them the space and financial freedom to take a step back while they evaluate. Should they decide to reunite, they can reinstate their union with a bit of paperwork. Those who go through a divorce and decide to get back together would have to complete the marriage process all over again. On another note, for those who do not believe in divorce for religious or other familial purposes, a legal separation can allow the two parties to honor their tradition but still have their own lives.
Every marital situation is different and has its own factors to consider. Take some time to evaluate if a legal separation could benefit your situation.