Solutions And Support For Families

What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Divorce

Many married couples face seemingly insurmountable challenges in their relationship. If a split appears to be the appropriate solution to their problems, they may explore options like divorce or legal separation.

If you are facing this situation, it is important to know the distinctions between these two processes.


Divorce signifies the legal termination of a marriage. In a divorce, the court officially dissolves the marital union, and both parties become single individuals. This means the end of shared responsibilities, such as financial obligations and property ownership.

The process involves dividing property, determining spousal support (a.k.a. alimony) and addressing custody and support if there are children. The court aims to ensure a fair distribution of assets and responsibilities.

Legal separation

Legal separation provides couples with an alternative to divorce. It allows them to live separately while remaining legally married. This can be a beneficial choice for those who wish to take a break from the challenges of marriage without completely ending the legal ties.

Like divorce, the legal separation process addresses issues like property division, spousal support and child custody. However, unlike divorce, the couple remains married, which can have financial and insurance implications. Some couples choose legal separation as a stepping stone towards reconciliation, while others may use it as a permanent arrangement without fully ending the marriage.

Key differences

The primary difference lies in marital status. In a divorce, the marriage is legally terminated, and both parties are free to remarry. In a legal separation, the marriage remains intact, and neither party can marry someone else.

Additionally, legal separation provides an opportunity for reconciliation without the need to remarry, since the couple is still legally wed. If reconciliation is not possible, the legal separation can convert into a divorce later.

Whether choosing to end the marriage or taking a break while staying married, there are legal options for couples seeking resolution and clarity in their relationships.