Divorce or Legal Separation: Which is Better?
Many couples know that they no longer want to cohabitate with their spouse, but they are not sure if they want a divorce. When this happens, they have the option of seeking a legal separation. A legal separation is similar to divorce in that you have to negotiate issues such as child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support and the division of property; however, unlike a divorce, you would continue to be legally married to your spouse. So what exactly is the difference between divorce and a legal separation? And why is one better than the other?
Why Couples Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce
The one key difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that you when you are separated, you are still legally married. However, because of that one minor detail, you and your spouse would continue to receive the same benefits as a married couple, but for all intents and purposes, act like a divorced couple. Some benefits to choosing legal separation instead of divorce include:
- You would remain in good standing with your church, as many religions frown upon divorce;
- Each of you will be eligible for the other’s government benefits (such as social security);
- One spouse will remain eligible for the other spouse’s health care or insurance benefits, including life insurance benefits;
- You will continue to receive a tax break for being married; and
- If you two decide to reconcile, there is nothing legally final about a separation, and therefore, you can resume your normal married life without having to go through the courts.
Some people choose legal separation because they do not meet their state’s eligibility requirements for divorce. For instance, in Florida, one spouse must be a resident of Florida for at least six months before either party can file for a divorce. If you and your spouse are fairly new to the state, you may not be eligible to file. Some states have a mandated separation period before a couple may file for divorce. For instance, in California a couple must be legally separated for six months before they can file. In Maryland, it is two years, or one year with mutual consent by both spouses. In Louisiana, the waiting period is six months, or two years for a covenant marriage. Florida has no such mandate.
Finally, some spouses will choose legal separation over divorce because it is far less stressful than going through the divorce process. If neither party envisions themselves remarrying, and if there is mutual consent to separate, legal separation is often the better and less emotionally draining option.
Consult a Boca Raton Divorce Attorney
Though a legal separation is not a divorce, you must treat it like one if you hope to protect yourself, your property, and your rights. Because of this, it would be in your best interests to consult with an experienced divorce Boca Raton lawyer who understands separation agreements, and who will be willing to assist you in drafting one that will benefit both you and your spouse. To schedule a private consultation with one of the legal representatives at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, call our office at 561.391.9943 today.