Should You Get a Divorce or Legal Separation?

Should You Get a Divorce or Legal Separation?

August 1, 2023

By FairWell Family Law Mediation

Divorce and legal separation have their differences. If you are on the fence, read this guide to learn what you should do.

Does it feel like you’re coming to the end of a marriage to your spouse? If so, you might already be looking into how to get a divorce.

Before you do this, though, you should know that a legal separation might be a better option, at least for the time being. You might not want to rush right into hiring a divorce lawyer and working toward a marriage termination right away.

To help you decide whether you should go with a divorce or a legal separation, we’ve broken down each of them below. We’ve also laid out scenarios that’ll help show when you might want to choose a legal separation over a divorce or vice versa.

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between a legal separation and a divorce.

What Is a Legal Separation?

Have you ever wished there was a way you could put your marriage on hold for whatever reason? That’s essentially what a legal separation will be.

When you and your spouse decide to be legally separated, you’ll often move into separate homes. You’ll also have a court order put into place that will help:

  • Come up with a temporary child custody arrangement
  • Break the financial bond you share with your spouse
  • Work out any other logistical aspects of you and your spouse separating

Some people will say they’re “separated” from their spouse simply because they no longer share a home. But in reality, there is a legal component to getting separated from your spouse.

Getting separated will provide you with protection. It’ll allow you to prepare to make your marriage termination official.

When Is a Legal Separation a Good Option?

Once you and your spouse make the decision to file for divorce, you won’t be able to go back and undo it later. If you decide you want to be married to your spouse at some point in the future, you’ll need to go through the marriage process again.

For this reason, you should not opt to get divorced from your spouse if you think there is any possible chance you might be able to make amends. It’s not a great idea to get divorced in the heat of the moment since you might regret doing it down the line

A legal separation would be a better option in this case since you can have it reversed at any point. A legal separation will also be a good option in many other instances, too.

Here are just a few of them:

  • You and your spouse want to stay married for the sake of your young children but don’t wish to live together anymore
  • You and your spouse are unable to get divorced because of your religious beliefs
  • You and your spouse would like to continue to take advantage of tax benefits available to married couples

A legal separation isn’t going to be for everyone. But if nothing else, it’ll buy you some time before you begin the divorce process. It’s why it might be worth going with a legal separation over a divorce.

What Is a Divorce?

A divorce is actually similar to a legal separation in many ways. When you and your spouse get divorced, you’ll need to agree on things like who will keep the kids and what will happen with all your finances.

You’ll take many of these same steps while getting legally separated. But there is one big thing that sets a divorce apart from a legal separation. A divorce will terminate your marriage for good.

You and your ex-spouse won’t be tied together anymore. That means you won’t be able to, say, file your taxes jointly.

When Is a Divorce a Good Option?

Getting divorced from your spouse will come with a finality that won’t come with getting legally separated. You need to think long and hard about whether or not getting a divorce is definitely what you want.

There are, however, many instances in which a divorce will be the best option for you. Here are just a few of them:

  • Your relationship with your spouse is on the rocks due to infidelity on one or both of your parts
  • Your marriage was plagued by domestic violence
  • You and your spouse are facing irreconcilable differences

In each of these cases, you’ll likely know you’re 100% done with your marriage and want to get out of it ASAP. Getting a divorce will be the better option for you.

How to Choose Between a Legal Separation or Divorce

Some couples will be able to choose between a legal separation and a divorce without any issues. But others will get stuck on the fence trying to decide which one they should go with.

Do you still have some hope that you and your spouse will be able to fix your problems and get back together? Then a legal separation will most likely be the best option for you.

Even if you don’t end up reconciling, a legal separation will be a good choice. It’ll give you time to consider all your options before eventually calling it quits.

Do you know, for a fact, that there isn’t any way you will even consider getting back together with your spouse? Then a divorce will probably be the best way to go.

There is only one instance in which you might want to get legally separated from your spouse even though you know you want a divorce. That will be when you suspect your spouse might place to fight hard to get what they want out of your divorce.

When this is the case, a legal separation can protect you and your finances for now. It could be worth using both a legal separation and a divorce if you find yourself in this scenario.

Contact Us for Divorce Mediation Services

Have you and your spouse decided that a divorce is a better option than a legal separation? You should try to keep the peace as best you can as you inch your way closer to getting divorced.

One good way to do this is by bringing in a divorce mediator to provide you with divorce mediation services. FairWell Family Law Mediation can make the divorce process simpler for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Contact us today to discover more about how we can assist you.


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