An unhappy marriage often makes people want to part their ways from their spouse.
An unhappy marriage is one where a person may feel like all love is lost and neither of the partners feels loved or secured. As an escape from such a bad relationship, many of us turn to divorce or legal separations.
Although both of these may seem to have the same purpose, that is to allow married couples to separate paths from each other, there are several differences between legal separation and divorce.
What is the difference between separation and divorce?
If you are someone who wishes to put a break on your marriage but is confused as to which process to go for, listed down below are the major differences between divorce and separation to help you reach a well-informed decision.
Divorce vs separation
By definition, legal separation is a court-issued order that allows spouses to live separately while still being married, i.e. without the legal finality that is said to be provided by divorce.
Separation may also be called an alternative to divorce that continues to recognize one’s marriage as legal and valid.
Separated vs divorce differences
1. Marital status
The biggest difference between separation and divorce is if you opt for separation rather than for divorce, your marital status stays as married. This is because unlike in divorce, your marriage is not yet terminated.
You and your partner may live separately and may have child custody and child visitation orders issued by the court, however, the two of you are still husband and wife. This also means that you are not free to remarry if you are separated and can only do so once you are divorced.
2. Making decisions for one another
Spouses are next of kin, i.e. one’s closest living relative.
The difference between separation and divorce is when a couple is separated, partners still remain the next of kin for each other and carry the right to make medical or financial decisions for one another.
This means your spouse still carries the power of decision making that they feel is better for you and thus, the entire family. This is only changed when a marriage is legally dissolved through divorce.
Also watch: 7 Most Common Reasons for Divorce
3. Benefits such as healthcare
Legal separation provides the retention of healthcare and other social security benefits such as retirement, unemployment insurance, pension insurance, etc.
Social security is necessary particularly in the old age to avoid poverty and protect people belonging to the middle class from the ups and downs of the market.
All such benefits remain intact when the couple opt for a legal separation but tend to terminate when the spouses choose to divorce. This difference between separation and divorce is what prevents couples from choosing separation.
4. Property rights
The difference between separation and divorce is that legal separation provides both the parties to retain the right to marital property but divorce doesn’t.
This means if you and your partner go for separation, each of you will have their rights preserved to property rights upon the death of the other.
However, a divorce extinguishes any such rights and the property is divided upon the couple’s current situation and their relation to the property.
5. Debts and liabilities
The couple remains legally responsible for each other in a legal separation, which means one spouse may continue to be responsible for the other’s debt or any similar liabilities.
The difference between separation and divorce is that, in divorce, all debts are handled during the process of dissolution of the marriage to free each of them of each other and allow them to live separate lives, as they will.
6. A chance of reconciliation
As the couples remain married due to a separation, there is room for them to reach reconciliation.
The difference between separation and divorce is that separation may be temporary but divorce isn’t.
Living apart may allow the two of them to reflect and think about their decision as well as the possible effects of it on their family and future.
Reconciliation is way easier when you are separated and there is also a high chance for couples to eventually put their differences aside and start fresh until and unless they simply can no longer stand each other.
Divorce, however, does not allow any room for reunification and the couples need to remarry if they wish to receive all of their marriage benefits again.
It is clear that divorce is a much more permanent decision as compared to separation, however, each decision has its own advantages and disadvantages. Although there are a few differences between divorce and legal separation, they also have similarities. Hence, it is important to consider all aspects of legal separation and divorce process when contemplating between the two.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.