Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Which Should You Choose?

If you and your spouse are having problems, you might be considering divorce. Instead of just filing for divorce, you may find that a legal separation will suit you better. There are a variety of reasons to start with a legal separation then decide during that separation if you will go through with the divorce. Here is more information about a separation and how to decide between separation and a dissolution of marriage.

What is a trial separation?

The first step to a legal separation is having a trial separation. During a trial separation, you will live apart from each other but there are no legal documents filed. When you and your spouse first start talking about a potential divorce, you may want to try a trial separation. This can let you know if you are ready to call it quits on your marriage, or if you are willing to give it another try. It is not uncommon for a couple to go through counselling during a trial separation. At the end of it, you can either opt for a legal separation, or get divorced.

Why choose a legal separation?

The only difference between a trial separation and a legal separation is the paperwork involved. In a legal separation, you are actually filing papers with the court to show you are no longer living together. During a legal separation, you are each responsible for your own independent lives, and must work out custody arrangements for any minor children you have. Typically, any property or debts acquired after the separation has been filed become that of the person to acquire them, and are no longer considered property of both spouses.

There are different reasons to choose a legal separation, but many couples decide this option because it is a faster and easier process. You don't pay the same high fees as with a dissolution of marriage and you can still rectify your problems at a later date and end the legal separation, instead of it leading to divorce.

When should you choose divorce?

If you are absolutely sure your marriage is over, regardless of the circumstances, there is no need to get a legal separation first. You can get lawyers in family law and fill out the paperwork to file for divorce. This should be the option if you or your spouse are certain you do not want to work it out and that you are fully prepared for the end of your marriage.