5 Benefits of Choosing Legal Separation Over Divorce

Couples who hit a rough patch may be unsure of what to do next. Some are unsure about the finality of divorce, and others have reasons to maintain their legal marriage. For these people, legal separation serves as a middle ground.

Legal separation is a legally recognized arrangement that allows spouses to live apart while remaining legally married. From a legal perspective, there is a big difference between legal separation and divorce. Both involve similar processes of asset division and custody arrangements. However, a divorce legally ends the marriage, allowing ex-spouses to remarry. On the other hand, a legal separation does not dissolve the marriage, meaning neither party can enter a new marriage.

Here is a broad overview of reasons why couples choose to separate while staying married in the law’s eyes.

  1. Financial Security

For many people, remaining married offers numerous financial benefits. For instance, legal separation allows couples to continue sharing certain joint benefits, such as health insurance. Maintaining coverage can be a lifeline for people with health issues or for those who do not have an employer-sponsored plan. This continuation of benefits can represent significant cost savings and provide peace of mind during a tumultuous period.

Additionally, there are tax benefits to consider. Legally separated couples may still file joint tax returns, which often leads to lower tax liabilities.

Some social security benefits and military spousal benefits require a certain duration of marriage. Legal separation allows couples to keep accruing these benefits without interruption.

Moreover, legal separation allows couples to continue shared financial responsibilities, such as mortgage payments or family business operations. A divorce comes with abrupt financial divisions that can disrupt such transactions. Separation provides a smoother transition for both parties as they adjust to their new living arrangements and financial independence.

  1. Emotional and Relational Benefits

The psychological impact of divorce is complex. For many, legal separation offers a less traumatic alternative. Divorce is final, and it can bring about a profound sense of loss and emotional upheaval. Legal separation, on the other hand, provides a buffer. It gives couples a pause that allows them to live apart without immediately severing all marital ties. This break is beneficial for couples who aren’t sure about ending their marriage or hope for reconciliation.

Legal separation also offers a structured space for couples to work on their relationship without cohabitation. It can serve as a period of reflection and personal development, which, for some, can reignite the spark that initially brought them together. For others, time apart may confirm the need for a more permanent solution. On the surface, this result may not sound beneficial. However, this confirmation can bring peace of mind, allowing couples to know they are making the right choice.

When children are involved, the stakes of a divorce are even higher. Legal separation can mitigate the impact on children by maintaining a semblance of family unity and routine. Divorce can be a sudden jolt to the family system, but legal separation allows for a gradual adjustment. This transition can be particularly beneficial for children, who often thrive on stability and predictability. By maintaining a stable home environment and consistent parenting schedules, legal separation can help children adapt to the changes in their family life with less distress.

Moreover, family dynamics are less likely to undergo drastic changes with legal separation. Extended family relationships, for instance, can remain intact, and spouses can navigate social functions without the added complexity of divorce.

  1. Flexibility and Control

When drafting a separation agreement, spouses can negotiate terms that address their specific concerns, such as asset division, spousal support, and child custody arrangements. This personalized approach allows for creative solutions that might not be possible in a divorce process. For instance, couples can agree on unconventional living arrangements or support structures that better suit their family’s needs.

Legal separation can offer couples a greater degree of control. They have the autonomy to decide the course of their relationship without external pressures. This control can be empowering during an uncertain time.

  1. Religious and Cultural Considerations

Even in our modern age, many have religious beliefs that discourage or prohibit divorce. Legal separation can be a respectful alternative that aligns with their values. Separated couples can live separately and address practical matters, such as finances and child-rearing, without contravening their religious doctrines.

Legal separation is also more compatible with certain cultural practices and beliefs. In some cultures, divorce carries a heavy social stigma, and legal separation offers a discreet solution that maintains the public facade of marriage. Maintaining an image can be crucial for individuals who value their community standing and want to avoid the ostracism divorce might bring.

  1. Legal and Strategic Advantages

Legal separation can be a strategic move in complex financial or business situations. For couples with intertwined business interests or complicated financial portfolios, separation allows for a clear delineation of personal and business assets. A divorce could cause serious disruption for these people. Separation can protect both parties from losses and keep business operations running smoothly.

For those with substantial wealth, legal separation offers a way to address financial obligations and asset protection while keeping the financial arrangements private.

Legal separation can also help with future changes. For example, if one spouse is likely to receive a substantial inheritance, separation can safeguard those assets from becoming marital property in a divorce. Similarly, if there are impending changes to tax laws or other legislation that could affect marital assets, legal separation can serve as a buffer. It gives couples time to assess and respond to these changes.

Additionally, spouses may retain inheritance rights and the ability to make medical decisions on behalf of their partner, which can be particularly important in cases of illness or incapacity.

If you are considering a separation, contact Burch Shepard Family Law Group for a consultation. We can assess your situation and help you determine whether separation or divorce is right for you. To schedule time with us, call our office at (949) 565-4158 or contact us online.