Ending a marriage is always a complex, difficult decision, even before considering legal matters. Understandably, many estranged couples struggle with the decision to legally separate or divorce. If you’re not well-versed in the law, it can be hard to understand the difference between the two. That’s where our attorneys at Warren Allen LLP come in. Read on to find out more about separation vs. divorce so you can arrive at a decision that’s best for you.
What Is the Primary Difference Between Separation vs. Divorce?
A separation keeps a marriage legally intact. A divorce, meanwhile, is a legally binding ending.
Some prefer to start with a legal separation to begin living separate lives while still ironing out the divorce details. This division can be beneficial with tricky matters, such as custody of children and child support.
If you are legally separated, neither spouse can legally marry another individual. However, they would be free to get remarried if both parties agreed to a divorce.
What Are the Reasons Some Choose to Legally Separate Instead of Divorce?
Some choose to separate if they think there could still be a possibility of reconciliation. In addition to not being final, there are some advantages to staying legally married.
If you receive health insurance through your spouse, you could keep that healthcare coverage with a legal separation. And when you’re legally separated, you can continue to file your taxes jointly.
Some individuals don’t believe in divorce for religious reasons. So a legal separation can serve as the end of marriage without forcing someone to feel as if they’ve betrayed their faith.
When you’re legally separated, you are still considered next of kin. Depending on your unique situation, this could be a hindrance or a benefit.
Legally separating also gives you time to figure out a new financial situation. This can include the division of assets and property.
What Are Some Reasons to Divorce Instead of Legally Separate?
Everyone’s situation is different. Some are certain there is no chance they will reconcile with their estranged spouse. In that case, they may prefer the finality of a divorce.
While legal separation provides financial benefits to some, it may not apply to others. Some people are so sure they want a divorce that paying for a legal separation would be a waste of money. If you’re 100 percent positive, it’s in your best interest not to waste time and money.
How Do You Get a Legal Separation?
Filing for a legal separation is similar to filing for a divorce in some respects. For instance, the person filing will provide one of ten reasons, known as grounds, for the separation. These grounds you can choose from are the same as those listed when filing for divorce.
What Are Some Other Similarities of Legal Separation vs. Divorce?
Since both legal separations and divorces require going through the courts, there are certain decisions these institutions may make in response to a case, including alimony, child support, child custody, and/or property division.
While exact costs can vary, legal separations and divorces cost about the same. They also can take similar amounts of time to process. Because divorce is final, it can sometimes take longer due to various complications and reasons.
Can Each Spouse File Separately?
Estranged spouses don’t always agree on the choice to separate vs. divorce. While one party can file for a legal separation, the other can file for divorce. However, a divorce is typically not granted unless both parties agree on the terms.
Are There Other Options Than Legal Separation vs. Divorce?
Many couples start with a trial separation, an informal arrangement that doesn’t require any legal agreements. This separation means no courts are involved, as it can lead to reconciliation, legal separation, or divorce, depending on the couple.
Another option is a permanent separation. This is an acknowledgment that the couple will not be reconciling. Like a trial separation, this does not have to be a legal separation. Some may choose to live separately but stay legally wed and not pursue a divorce for a number of reasons.
Why Should You Get an Attorney Before Deciding Separation vs. Divorce?
As soon as you decide the marriage can’t be saved, you should be looking for an attorney. Simply put, an attorney is there to help you make the right decision.
Legal separation, divorce, or any kind of dissolution of a union is an incredibly difficult choice. You want to do everything in your power to make sure it’s the right choice. Lawyers are good to have on hand even if you still want to take some time to decide.
Another important factor to consider is that different states have different laws, rules, and regulations regarding separations and divorces. For instance, some states do not even permit legal separation, so that’s something you’ll need to look into, but a lawyer can help you understand the specific state laws.
You should be familiar with Oregon’s specifications for divorce, separation, and even annulments. You can find some answers to frequently asked questions about this type of legal issue on the Oregon Judicial Department’s website.
Turn to Us at Warren Allen LLP
Here at Warren Allen LLP, our experienced attorneys can answer any questions you may have about legal separation vs. divorce. We can also provide legal advice and representation for issues of family matters, such as child custody.
In addition to legal separation and divorce, we understand there are other arrangements couples make, including civil unions and domestic partnerships. Given our extensive experience, we are here to help with those as well.
Our family law services extend beyond divorce. We handle relationships between parents and children, establishing paternity, and other parenting issues.
Now that you understand the difference between separation vs. divorce, it’s time to make your next moves. Turn to us for quality legal representation in the Pacific Northwest. You can find more information on Warren Allen LLP on our website. And you can contact us via our website as well.