What is the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?

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What is the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?

Marriage is a beautiful union between two individuals, but when it is not working out, it can be devastating. In this situation, people often find themselves confused about whether to separate or divorce. If you are currently in this situation or know someone who is, you need to understand the difference between separation and divorce.

Separation Versus Divorce From a Legal Perspective

Legally, separation and divorce are similar, but there are significant differences. Separation is a process where spouses decide to live apart while remaining legally married, whereas divorce ends the marriage. Separation is temporary, while divorce is permanent. During a separation, couples may decide to reconcile or get back together, but in a divorce, there is no room for reconciliation.

Benefits of a Separation Over a Divorce

One of the most significant benefits of separation is that it provides breathing space to both parties, giving them time to reflect on their marriage before making a final decision. Couples hoping to work things out may choose separation for this reason. In comparison, when a legal divorce is finalized, either party cannot go back to the relationship. 

Types of Separation

Separation can have different forms, the most typical being a physical separation, where two people are living apart, although others can be legal, trial, or permanent. If you decide to take living apart a step further, you might enter into a legal separation.

What is a Legal Separation?

Legal separation is a process allowed by family law that allows married couples to make decisions about marriage-related matters, such as child support, custody and even visitation rights, without having to go through a full divorce. During this process, the court will consider any decision made under one year of legal separation the same as if it was done during the marriage. While this option may not be ideal for all couples, it can provide peace of mind, an avenue for clear communication between partners, and an opportunity to preserve certain legal rights available through marriage.

Agreements with Separation and Divorce

Legally, a separation agreement can be flexible or fixed, as mutually determined by the couple in question. During separation, the court cannot alter or enforce the contract terms. In contrast, for a divorce decree, court orders the divorce agreement be no less vague or detailed about child custody, property settlement support payments, visitation, or parenting. When these agreements are breached, there may be legal consequences attached to them. 

In conclusion, the difference between separation and divorce is critical to understand when facing marriage issues. Separation is a temporary status that provides couples with the option to reconcile or work on their marriage, whereas divorce is a permanent, legally binding decision to end a marriage. The most significant benefit of separation is that it offers an opportunity to take a break from the stresses of a relationship, while divorce provides a final settlement, outlining the terms and conditions of the separation. Consider consulting family law lawyers to understand better which option works best for you. Remember, even though it’s a challenging time, you are not alone and help is available.

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