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The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce

Legal separation and divorce, contrary to some thinking, are considered two separate things. However, many of the stipulations in legal separations, as well as the rights that one person has when entering legal separation, are comparable and similar to that of a divorce. Legal separation allows couples who may consider their marriage to be “failing” make a temporary arrangement of separation, while it is understood they will  continue to work out their problems, as they still remain legally married. Reconciliation is the goal in legal separation and can be issued, like divorce, through a court order.


In a sense, legal separation is a form of temporary divorce. While the word divorce implies a permanent separation, legal separation is meant to be temporary and does not automatically lead to divorce. Couples can reconcile, but if they wish to move on and get a divorce, they will have to go through the divorce process dictated by where they live.

The legal separation process and relief offered, however, is very similar to divorce; in some situations in can mirror the process of divorce. For example, a court can grant legal separations due to “irreconcilable differences leading to the breakdown of the marriage.”

Legal separation also can allow both parties to set provisions and guidelines concerning the following areas:

  1. Child Support
  2. Child Custody
  3. Visitation
  4. Division of Marital Property
  5. Spousal Support
  6. The Marital Home
  7. Health Insurance Benefits
  8. Life Insurance

The Difference

The lines can often be blurred when it comes to individual differences between legal separation and divorce. As stated, it’s more of an overarching difference meant to give marriages a chance to take a break in an attempt to solve their issues and move forward, rather than just having a black and white decision of marriage or divorce.  Some of the differences specified between legal separation and divorce will vary due to the state’s laws and jurisdiction when handling these kinds of cases.

Although MyDivorceDocuments does not provide legal separation papers, those who have tried legal separation and decided to move forward with a divorce can benefit from an inexpensive online divorce. Online divorce is meant to help couples who amicably understand their marriage is over and can agree to certain grounds to pursue an uncontested, no-fault divorce. To learn more about an online divorce or to get started on the divorce forms, visit today.

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