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How is a legal separation different than a divorce?

Although some people in New York may think of a divorce as legally separating from a spouse, the term legal separation differs from an actual divorce. Although the reasons for seeking a legal separation as an alternative to divorce can vary greatly, there are both benefits that some may find lucrative. For instance, a legal separation doesn't actually end a marriage at all.

A legal separation is not the same as a trial separation, which many married couples who are thinking of divorce may consider. In a legal separation, all of the same issues that are considered during a divorce are also addressed. If the couple has any children, child custody and support are established in order to reflect the two new separate households. Even issues such as alimony may be considered, especially if one partner continues to greatly out earn the other.

When filing for a legal separation, it usually must be done on certain grounds, such as incompatibility or adultery. If you're wondering why you shouldn't just simply end your marriage in a divorce, there are a few considerations to take note of. For some people, the tax incentives for remaining legally married outweigh the need or desire for a divorce. Additionally, should situations change in the future, the couple doesn't actually have to get remarried.

Couples in New York typically face a wide array of disputes and problems that may lead them to deciding to end their marriage. However, as every marriage varies so greatly, it is not unthinkable that there should be more than one solution to addressing the marital issue. While some couples benefit legally ending their marriage through a divorce, this is by no means the only option -- indeed, for many years, New York couples could gain a no fault divorce only by living separate and apart pursuant to a formal separation agreement. There may be couples who understand the benefits that can come from a legal separation that, while leaving their marriage legal, otherwise separates their lives, property and finances.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Separation", , Oct. 11, 2014

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