Imagine that a married couple, after years being together, starts to see some fractures in their relationship. Though they try to patch things up, the relationship just keeps getting worse and, eventually, they decide it is time to do something about it. Instead of immediately filing for divorce, the couple talks about their options. They are considering a legal separation as opposed to a divorce.
So what’s the difference? What makes a separation, and what makes a divorce?
Well, a divorce is “simple” in the sense that it legally ends the marriage. The journey to that legal end may be a long one, and there could be some complex issues along the way, but once the divorce is resolved, the marriage is over.
But with a legal separation, the marriage does not legally end — unless the couple takes the next step (which would be to divorce). During separation, many issues can be handled that would be handled in a divorce. Child custody and property division are just a couple of the matters that can be dealt with in a separation.
While separated, the spouses will live separately. Legal separation will also be granted under a court order, which means that you must comply with the all of the rules and regulations set forth by the court. The separation can give you and your spouse the time you need to either decide to work things out with your marriage, or to take that final step and officially file for divorce.
Source: FindLaw, “Legal Separation vs. Divorce,” Accessed Sept. 25, 2015