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What is a Legal Separation? The Pros and Cons You Should Know

A legal document with the heading separate agreement sits on a business desk. When a relationship just isn’t working, there is power in ending a bad situation. Many people rush to get a divorce, but there are other options for couples to explore. Legal separation is another avenue people use to gain distance from each other. 

This article will focus on legal separation and highlight the good and the bad sides of it for people who want to end the hardships of their marriage. 

What is a Legal Separation?

Legal separations can be less expensive, less stressful, and easier than a divorce. Legal separation goes beyond leaving a shared home and living apart. Under a legal separation, the marriage continues while a court order outlines the rights and requirements of both spouses. 

What happens if you move out before filing? You might be sacrificing your right to child custody, property, and support by leaving without a separation agreement. These agreements lay out a plan for child custody (and, if necessary, child support), visitation timelines, support (financial), property and debt division, and paying off legal fees. Having a legal separation agreement is important to ensure your rights are clear. 

Advantages of Legal Separation

There are many advantages of legal separations instead of divorces. 

Financial Reasons: One major upside is the financial side. Under a legal separation, both parties keep their medical, life, and other insurance benefits. If a marriage has lasted long enough, both members can gain each other’s social security benefits. Tax benefits also carry on after a legal separation.

Cultural or Religious Reasons: Many religions and cultures discourage or forbid divorce. Under a legal separation, both parties can maintain their legal status of marriage while living separately.

Chance to Return to Full Marriage: Some couples need to take a drastic step or take a pause in their marriage, but they want a path back if things improve. A “trial separation” helps many couples work through hardships. Through a legal separation, the path to full marriage would be much easier. 

Disadvantages of Legal Separation

Financial Reasons: In marriage, your finances are tied to those of your spouse. If you believe your spouse will put their assets at risk, divorcing will be financially better. Legal separation typically does not entitle you to your spouse's assets, whereas a divorce would force a division of current assets. 

Can’t Remarry: You may heal and be ready for a future relationship given enough time. A legally separated person cannot marry a new person in the U.S. 

Get Legal Advice on How to Separate

There are many reasons to get a legal separation or a divorce if you wish to end your marriage. Deciding between the two or many other options available can be difficult. That is where we come in. 

The divorce and family law experts at Aldrich Legal Services have been helping families figure out and get through the divorce process for more than 21 years. We can help you find a respectful and fair conclusion or change for your marriage. 

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