Clients often question the difference between legal separation and divorce. A divorce completely dissolves the legal status of the marital relationship and restores both parties to the status of a single person. A legal separation, however, does not dissolve the legal status of the marital relationship but it does terminate the marital community so that all assets and debts incurred by either party after the decree of legal separation remain the sole and separate property and debt of the spouse who acquired the property or debt. All community property acquired during the marriage will be equitably divided. In a legal separation proceeding, the court may also enter child custody orders, child support orders, and may award alimony in a legal separation.
There are three primary reasons why you may wish to file for a legal separation instead of a divorce.
- You have been married less than ten years and want to receive social security benefits.
- You need to remain married to receive health and medical benefits under your spouse's group health insurance plan if permitted by the plan.
- Your religious beliefs prohibit you from seeking a divorce.
It is also important to understand that if one party files for a legal separation and the other party files for divorce, the court is obligated to convert the legal separation case into a divorce case. Additionally, a legal separation case is different from a divorce case because you are not considered to be a single person when you get a legal separation and you, therefore, cannot remarry.
McKay Law is committed to helping clients explore their options for divorce or separation and determine which is best for them. We also educate our clients about each of these options and provide step-by-step assistance through the entire process. If you would like to further explore whether legal separation is the best fit for you, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.