Separation and divorce are common words used interchangeably when talking about the disbanding of a marriage. Legally, separation and divorce have different meanings. To add to that, legal separation is another option for couples. When determining which option may be best for your situation, consult a lawyer. They will help determine which situation you may fall into and help in legal aspects that may need to be taken.


Separation is when couples live apart from one another. There are not legal papers that have to be filed or court proceedings. There may be some changes when it comes to benefit status requirements or taxes. You will have to make arrangements for childcare if there is a need. This will include child support, spousal support, and payment of bills. If an agreement cannot be reached, a mediator or lawyer can step in and help the couple meet an understanding.

Legal Separation

Though you are not divorced, this will change the status of your marriage. You must file with the court to change your marital status. Legal separation can often take as long as divorce and costs as much too. During a legal separation, you must include final custody, visitation rights, child support, and alimony orders. Assets and debts will be permanently divided. Since there is still a technically married couple, the wife cannot take on her maiden name, the couple may retain certain tax and benefit statuses. Some people may ask why would anyone want to be legally separated but not divorced especially if it is the same cost and time commitment. Some reasons may include:

  • Religious reasons
  • Government benefits
  • Insurance benefits
  • Tax benefits
  • Chance of reconciliation
  • Not eligible for divorce


Divorce is the complete end of a marital status. Everything is divided, support is determined and the arrangements are made for any children. Now the wife can return to her maiden name, their estates are officially separate, and insurance and tax benefits are no longer shared. Issues with the division of real estate could occur. Courts will not try to identify who is at fault for the separation. Once filed for divorce, there can be no chance of reconciliation for the divorce to be granted. Divorces usually take several months to complete unless they are complicated.


Seek out consultation from a lawyer if you find yourself in a situation similar to these matters.