If you are torn between the decision of moving forward with a divorce or opting for a legal separation, you are certainly not the only one. To make the best decision for your circumstances, it is critical to understand the differences and similarities between the two. This will help you determine if the benefits they provide will address your needs and goals and, thus, assist you in deciding if legal separation is the right decision. Of course, it would also be wise to schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney for advice on which path will best suit you.
The Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce
While there are some similarities between a legal separation and a divorce, there are some major differences that will factor the choice you ultimately end up making. Some of the differences between divorce and legal separation include:
- Marital status: When you legally separate from your spouse, you retain your marital status and cannot remarry.
- Healthcare and benefits: Benefits like health care and some social security benefits would be terminated in a divorce, but if you choose to legally separate, these benefits could be retained.
- Decision-making: Since you would still be legally married, you would still be considered each other’s next of kin and would be able to make medical or financial decisions on one another’s behalf. In a divorce, you would no longer have this right.
- Debts and liabilities: This also means that you could still be responsible for the debts of your spouse. In a divorce, debts are handled during the dissolution process.
- Property rights: Your rights to property benefits would also be preserved upon the death of your spouse.
- Remarriage: It is important to note that a divorce cannot be undone. If you later decide that you want to reconcile with your ex-spouse, you would have to remarry to obtain a legal reunification. In a legal separation, reconciliation is substantially easier.
The Similarities Between Legal Separation and Divorce
As mentioned earlier, there are a fair number of similarities between a legal separation and a divorce. These similarities include:
- Separation maintenance or alimony
- Child support
- Child visitation
- Property division
Why opt for a legal separation instead of a divorce? If you are still interested in working on your marriage and believe you might eventually be able to achieve a reconciliation, but no longer want to live together, a legal separation might best suit your needs. If you later choose to divorce, the process will also be much easier since you will have already addressed many of the issues that often take time in a divorce.
Family Law Attorney in Columbia, SC
If you are planning to file for a divorce or legal separation, or are in need of advice to decide between the two, now is the time to reach out to a skilled family law attorney. At Masella Law Firm, P.A., our family law team in Columbia has the extensive legal knowledge and insight to effectively navigate you through any family matter, including legal separation or divorce. We will work tirelessly on your behalf to achieve a resolution that best protects your interests.
Get started today and contact our office at (803) 938-4952 to discuss your case.