How Is Legal Separation Different From DivorceIf your marriage has hit a crisis point, but you’re not 100% sure that divorce is the right answer, then a legal separation might be just what you’re looking for. They’re functionally similar to a divorce. You go through the same division of property, establish custody if there are children involved, set child support and visitation schedules, all of that, exactly as you would in the case of an actual divorce. The key difference being, of course, that you’re still technically married. If your plan is to get remarried, then a legal separation won’t work – you’ll still need to proceed with a divorce, although you can certainly use a legal separation as a viable first step down that road.

So if it’s not an outright requirement to get divorced, why do people do it? Well, in practice, a significant number of people do file for legal separation, and then divorce. The specific reasons vary from one couple to the next, but there are common themes that arise. Some couples know that their marriage isn’t working, but feel a religious obligation not to get divorced. In those cases, legal separation offers a good middle ground.

For most people though, it comes down to not being sure if divorce is the “right” answer. In those cases, legal separation gives you a good idea of what a divorce later on would look and feel like. Just as important as that, it gives you the space and time you need to make the right decision for yourself. After all, it can be virtually impossible to think about divorce objectively if the two of you are still living together and constantly bumping into each other. If you want to approach the question of whether or not to proceed with the divorce with a clear-headed pragmatism, many people find legal separation to be a useful tool. It’s not a panacea, obviously, but it can certainly help.