legal separation vs divorce

Legal Separation vs Divorce: What’s the Difference?

When most people think of separating from their partners, they think of pursuing a divorce. And while divorce is certainly an option, it’s not the only one you have at your disposal. Legal separation can give you the freedom to live your life without you having to pursue a full divorce. Before you make a decision and schedule an appointment with your Missouri divorce lawyer, you need to understand the difference between the two options. 

legal separation vs divorce

What Is Legal Separation?

Legal separation is effectively a contract between you and your spouse that lets you separate your life from theirs legally and financially. Separation allows you to divide shared assets just as you would in a divorce, create custody agreements to co-parent your children, provide spousal and child support if needed, and more. But it does so without legally terminating your marriage. That means you’re still entitled to the same rights and benefits you had as a married couple. You can even start dating again, but you won’t be able to remarry without pursuing a divorce from your legal spouse.

The Benefits of Separation

Separation offers several unique benefits for couples that undergo the process including the following:

  • The ability to stay on your spouse’s insurance plans.
  • The ability to file taxes as a married couple potentially helping you both save money.
  • The opportunity to reconcile down the line without having to pay to get married again.
  • The ability to pursue a divorce if the separation proves beneficial.

What Is Divorce?

Divorce is the complete and legal termination of a marriage. Most divorces share similarities to legal separations as couples will start living apart, divide assets, and establish custody agreements as applicable. But divorce takes things to the next step by completely terminating the relationship you have with your spouse. You can’t share health insurance with your spouse and all property and property ownership will be divided fairly. Furthermore, you’re able to remarry without issue down the line once your divorce is complete. 

How to Decide Which Is Right for Your Situation

Choosing between a legal separation and a divorce is a personal decision. Some couples may find that legal separations are better while others may want to pursue a divorce from the very beginning. The best way to decide is to consider your relationship, your needs, and your situation.

If you and your partner aren’t ready to commit to a divorce or you just need a break to see if separating permanently is right for your relationship, a legal separation may be a good choice. But if you and your partner are ready to separate permanently, pursuing a divorce will likely be a better option. 

Speak With a Missouri Divorce Attorney Today

Both legal separations and divorces will let you live a life apart from your spouse, but they work in different ways. The best way to decide between the two options is to schedule a consultation with an experienced Missouri divorce attorney. 

At Columbia Family Law, we can help whether you’re interested in separation or want to file for a divorce. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.