Legal separation is usually a step that happens before divorce proceedings are begun. However, sometimes a couple will file for divorce before separating physically. A legal separation is often referred to as a “trial separation” because the idea is to see if the two people are happier and healthier when they’re apart. Sometimes during a separation, couples counseling can be more effective, because the couple won’t be living together and won’t have the opportunity to argue. In other cases, once the couple is separated, no one is still hoping to work things out, and marriage counseling wouldn’t make a difference.