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Is a legal separation just a practice divorce?

Divorce can seem like a scary option when your marriage starts to get difficult. Just like any relationship, there are any number of reasons why a marriage can go from amazing to terrible over the years. People and circumstances change and what was once adorable can become the thing that pushes you over the edge.

Many people will make the progression from married to separated to divorced on their own, without making any formal agreement. The separation period becomes something of a “wait and see” time where you try to figure out what to do. A legal separation, however, can be valuable in some circumstance.

Here are some FAQs about legal separation.

Is it just practice for the real thing?

Legal separation is a process that has a lot of similarities to divorce, and can, make the final divorce process easier since some of the difficult work has been resolved in the separation process. In a legal separation, the only part of the marriage that stays in tact is the “married” part. Part of the separation process is legally dividing up all the assets and deciding things like child custody and visitation.

It may seem like a trial run, but in many ways, a separation is much closer to divorced than married. The process of dividing assets can be difficult and stressful, and more than an unstable marriage can bear.

However, if behind the separation is a real intent to get back together, a legal separation can be set aside by the judge and you can go back to married life if you are able to work things out. A divorce is cannot be set aside.

When is legal separation a good option?

There are a few reasons that a couple might decide to get legally separated rather than divorced including:

  • A real possibility of getting back together. You may be at a place where you both have every intention of getting back together, but for the time you need to maintain separate lives. Getting a legal separation can help you divide everything equally while you figure out what the next step is in your relationship together.
  • Religious reasons. Many religions place a strong emphasis on staying together once you have committed to marriage. When the marriage takes a turn for the worst, you may feel a lot of pressure to stay in a situation that is no longer right for you (or your spouse). A legal separation can allow you the separation without the stigma of divorce.
  • Insurance reasons. Insurance policies can make things tricky for a couple that has decided that they can no longer stay married. Since a legal separation allows the marriage to stay intact while still letting you go your separate ways, this is a possible solution for that situation.

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