Marriages are very complicated relationships, and often it is not simple to know how to proceed when the relationship beings to dissolve. While many couples choose to move toward divorce, ending the marriage is not always the answer for every couple.
Legal separations offer a middle ground between a relationship separation and a divorce. Depending on the factors in your marriage that cause your conflicts, a legal separation may actually serve your needs better than a divorce.
While legal separations are commonly precede a divorce, they can give a couple room to breathe and assess the state of their relationship while still providing some court mandated guidelines by which each party must abide.
This structure often provides the legal muscle that some couples need to truly pause their marriage and take stock of what makes sense for them.
Divorce versus legal separation
The primary difference between a divorce and a legal separation is that a legally separated couple remains legally married.
However, the two legal actions share many other components. Under a legal separation, a court can help a couple create fair agreements for dividing marital assets or issue orders governing custody, child support and spousal support.
These orders are legally binding just like property division agreements or custody arrangements in a divorce. Failing to abide by the terms of a legal separation can also carry similar consequences to those dealt out to divorcees who do not abide by the terms of their divorce.
What's the right fit for your marriage?
If you're weighing your options between a legal separation and a traditional divorce, then your marriage certainly needs something to change. Without examining the specifics of your marriage, it is impossible to know whether a legal separation is the right fit for what your family needs.
You may consider asking yourself some very pointed questions about why you are weighing these options in the first place. Is there any part of your heart that believes your marriage is salvageable? Do you think that some time apart with legally enforceable guidelines could give you room to heal the marriage and build a stronger relationship on a new foundation?
Legal separation often provides an excellent preview of what divorce truly looks like. Some couples don't really know they whether they want to divorce until they try it on and wear it for a little while.
Whatever your marriage needs, whether it is space to reassess the relationship or to simply end it, it is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney to keep your rights and priorities protected.