Separation & Divorce: What’s the Difference?

Many people do not know the difference between a legal separation and divorce. There really is only one major thing that differentiates the two from one another.

Family Law attorney Allison Sutton explains what makes legal separation different from divorce.

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The Difference Between Separation and Divorce

Essentially, you follow the same exact process for a legal separation that you would in a divorce.

You are:
  • dividing assets
  • dividing debts
  • coming up with a parenting plan
  • spousal maintenance is also something that’s on the table

The only difference is that at the end of the case you’re given a decree of legal separation rather than a decree of dissolution of marriage.

Legal Separation or Divorce?

Once that decree of legal separation enters, there is a mandatory six-month waiting period before either spouse can do a motion to convert that decree of legal separation into a decree of dissolution.

Reasons why people might choose a legal separation over a divorce:
  1. a reconciliation may be possible
  2. protect themselves and stop the clock on spousal maintenance, for instance
  3. religious beliefs that don’t allow for divorce
  4. continue healthcare coverage

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