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A lot of people who are considering divorce are weighing legal separation vs divorce. Though legal separation may sound like a fancy way of saying “divorce,” being legally separated from your spouse is different than being divorced from your spouse. When you are divorced from your spouse, you are no longer married to them. However, when you’re legally separated from your spouse, you are still legally married, but living apart from your spouse. A legal separation will result in an order from the court setting out guidelines and expectations for both parties during the separation. You do not need to file for a legal separation in order to file for divorce.

Why Do People File for Legal Separation?

In the most simple terms legal separation means that, though you’re still married to your spouse, you are legally separated, or living apart. This also means that, in a lot of ways, you are financially separate from your spouse. Some couples choose to become legally separated because they aren’t sure if divorce is right for them. Other couples choose to legally separate for tax or insurance reasons. If you are wondering if a legal separation will help you during tax season, you may wish to speak with a financial advisor and/or family law attorney to get the most accurate information pertaining to your circumstances. Legal separation may also help protect your assets and protect you from your spouse’s debts. If you purchase a new vehicle after you’ve been legally separated, it’s far less likely that the vehicle will be fought over in court since you can prove that the asset was acquired after you were separated. Also, if your ex has a tendency to max out credit cards, becoming legally separated can protect you from having to be responsible for debt they amassed after the separation.

What Are the Disadvantages?

The primary drawback to legal separation is the inability to remarry. If you’re legally separated, you’ll have to obtain a legal divorce before remarrying. If you reconcile with your estranged spouse, you will have to file a motion to have the legal separation terminated. When it comes to legal separation vs divorce, a legal separation is reversible whereas divorce is not. However, a legal separation is very similar in a lot of ways. Assets and debts are divided up, custody arrangements are made, and alimony and child support may be ordered during a legal separation. Because of this, a lot of people find that it just makes more sense to file for divorce. In a legal separation, you will have a piece of paper saying that you and your spouse are legally separated as of a specified date. Therefore, this may pave a clearer path in the division of assets and debt, among other issues that are normally settled during the divorce process. 

So, When Can I Start Dating?

Legally speaking, you can start dating at any point after the separation. You can even start dating before you’ve separated—it’s all up to you. However, you can also start dating at any point during the divorce process. Though it isn’t advisable to date until after your divorce is finalized, there are no laws preventing you from doing so. So, even though you are legally separated, you are still legally married. For the majority of couples, it makes more sense to just go ahead with the divorce. 

Is Legal Separation Right for You?

Legal separation usually isn’t a step that happens before divorce. Rather, it’s typically a step that happens in place of divorce. Usually, people become legally separated because, though they’re no longer living with their spouse or sharing finances, they wish to remain married. Since most people are separating because they no longer want to be married to their spouse, they usually just go ahead with the divorce. If you’re unsure of what’s best for your situation, you may want to get advice from an attorney when deciding whether to file for legal separation or divorce. Those who are considering legal separation should consider the pros and cons of legal separation vs divorce. If you think legal separation is right for you, you may want to get advice from an attorney today.

Choosing Divorce

If you’re looking to begin the divorce process, CoilLaw is here for you. Our experienced team of attorneys are committed to protecting your rights during the divorce. If you’re ready to start a new life today, contact us for an initial consultation.


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