Legal Separation vs. Divorce - Explained - Bineham & Gillen

divorceLegal Separation vs. Divorce – Explained

March 22, 2019by James Gillen

Understanding the differences between a legal separation and a divorce can be difficult, especially in a stressful time. Let’s break it down to see what the differences are between a divorce and a separation.

Legal separation

During a legal separation, you are choosing to not live with your spouse but still split the majority of the shared interests and remain legally married – unlike a divorce when you decide to terminate your marriage.


A divorce is the termination of a marriage. With that being said, a divorce requires more paperwork to be processed, starting with filing a petition to ask the court for a divorce. The divorce process will officially end with an order of dissolution, and by this time the property and the debts are already settled – along with child support and custody.

What are the similarities?

In both a legal separation and a divorce, the court will decide on how the rights of the couple will be separated. This includes child custody, child support and property rights. Both acts are solidified by a court document.

What are the differences?

There are some things that you may not think of when choosing which path is best. Some of the most common things to go unnoticed include:

  • Decisions: While you are legally married, your spouse can still make both medical and financial decisions for you. If you are divorced, your spouse is no longer considered your next of kin.
  • Debts: In a divorce, all debts are settled during the court processes. In a legal separation, however, you may still be responsible for your spouse.
  • Benefits: Some health and social security benefits are still available during a legal separation, but they are terminated with a divorce.

Don’t get lost in the mess of the confusion. Call Bineham and Gillen to talk about more options today.