Is There a Benefit to Choosing Legal Separation Over Divorce?

By LawrenceGarcia

It’s not uncommon for couples to live in separate households before deciding to go through with their divorce. This period, often called a “trial separation,” gives both spouses an opportunity to evaluate their individual situations and whether or not pursuing legal action is worth the hassle.

What Is Legal Separation?
Some couples who separate end up remaining separated instead of getting divorced, even though the marriage can’t be salvaged. When this occurs, experienced attorneys recommend executing a legal separation agreement. This agreement sorts out issues like division of assets and debt, spousal support, child support, and visitation.

You might be wondering why couples who no longer want to be married wouldn’t want to cut ties altogether with their spouses. Here are a few situations where it might make more sense to legally separate instead of divorcing your spouse.

Religious Beliefs
For people who hold strong religious beliefs and values, marriage is very sacred, and breaking the vows they took might be against their religion. Some couples decide to legally separate because they can still stick to their vows, while others choose this option because they don’t want to be excommunicated.

Financial Benefits
Money is often the primary reason clients come to us to get help drafting legal separation agreements. Financial benefits of legal separation include:

Social Security & Military Benefits: Couples who are together for 10 or more years might be entitled to part of their spouse’s Social Security benefits. Spouses who have no ill-will towards each other sometimes choose legal separation so that they are still married, but able to live apart for 10 years to eventually collect a portion of the pension. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, military spouses are eligible to receive benefits after 10 years.
Health Insurance: It can be difficult for some people to obtain health insurance after a divorce if they were covered by their ex’s employer. For this reason, legal separation might be a smart move. Employer coverage might not apply if you divorce, and you will also have to refile for coverage if you and your ex filed for coverage as a couple. You should consult with a lawyer to review the details of your insurance plan to determine the right strategy for your situation.
Our legal team is here to assist if you have more questions regarding legal separation or divorce. We will help you explore all options and explain your rights under the law so that you can make informed decisions that will protect your best interests.