Legal Separation Vs Divorce – What Is The Difference

The difference between legal separation and divorce are obvious. While divorce is the legal dissolution of marriage, legal separation is a legal course of action if you don't want to be with your spouse anymore but you're not sure you want a divorce.

Legal separation has all the features of a divorce. You need to negotiate child custody, child visitation and child support, division of your property, and spousal support. However, you would still be legally married to your spouse. Legal separation is not as popular as divorce. However, there are several good reasons why you might want to take this course of action instead of divorcing your spouse.

For one, it gives you a preview of how your life might change with a divorce. We don't need to tell you, but divorce is a drastic decision that has a huge impact on your finances and your children. If during the legal separation you decide to stay together, you can always go back without getting married again. If, on the other hand, you want to be single again, you need to file for divorce.

Some couples opt for legal separation because of some spousal benefits like health insurance or social security benefits. However, there are certain benefits that exclude spouses that are legally separate from eligibility.

Whether you opt for divorce or legal separation, however, you need to consult with a divorce lawyer to discuss your options, and to truly understand the pros and cons of each option. While you're working with your lawyer, you might also want to consult an account or financial planner to help you understand what the financial ramifications are, both of legal separation and divorce.

But where to find a good divorce attorney? You should have among your friends someone who came out unscathed from a divorce or legal separation thanks to his or her attorney. Get the attorney's contact information and schedule a consultation. But if there's no one in your circle who can refer you to a good lawyer, you should go to a local directory website like Or you could also do a search on Google. Just type in “divorce lawyer” in the search bar plus the name of your area.

Before hiring a lawyer, make sure to vet at least three lawyers and interview them in an initial consultation. Don't worry because the initial consultation is always free for most lawyers.

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