Should You File For Divorce Or Legal Separation?

There are many couples right now who are questioning their ability to maintain their marriage. Truthfully, marriage is difficult. No matter how much you want to have a strong marriage, it is hard work. Even when you are fully committed, sometimes marriages fail. However, there are times that it is advisable not to file for divorce. Sometimes, it is better to separate, but keep the marriage in place until your situation has improved. One way to accomplish that is by filing a legal separation.


Obviously, the world is in a state of stress and panic. COVID-19 is infecting people and we are still searching for a cure. Millions of people are sick, and millions more have died. People from all walks of life have lost their jobs. Many schools are closed and many children are forced to homeschool. Unemployment is at record highs. Employers are forced to have employees work remotely, most with fewer hours. Many companies have shut their doors permanently.

While people are trying to figure out how to survive this pandemic and prepare for what comes next, the strain often puts spouses against one another. Does this mean their marriage is over? Maybe, or maybe not. Rushing to divorce court will only add more stress to a stressful life and more expense to a strained financial situation.

Many Faces Of Grief

Experts that work in industries that often face death know, grief has many faces. No two people face grief the same. Spouses, family members, and friends often do not know how to help a loved one get through death. However, death is not the only reason people grieve.

Loss of a job, marriage, security, and even a dream can bring on grief. This kind of grief is especially challenging for a couple who are living through devastating times (such as a pandemic).

Many Faces Of GriefPhoto credit: Nathan Cowley

How Can Legal Separation Help?

Legal separation is very much like a divorce. It is a legal document that you and your spouse have agreed to that divides your property, and establishes your separate living arrangements. You also arrange visitation for the children, child support, and alimony payments. However, you are still legally married.

How does this help?

You will “take a break” from each other. You do not dissolve your marriage, but you live as if you have. Neither of you can marry anyone else while you are legally separated. Often, people find, when the stress is relaxed and they have some time away from their spouse, the love they had is still there. They do not want to start over. They just needed some time apart. Then it is just a matter of petitioning the court to terminate the separation.

Other ways Legal Separations help:

  • This is a way to live apart if your religion does not allow divorce
  • You can still get the tax breaks by filing jointly (in most states)
  • You can still take advantage of your spouse’s insurance benefits
  • Maintain your marriage for the 10 year minimum for certain Social Security benefits
  • If you live in a state that requires a separation period before a divorce, this protects your interests
  • If you decide to file for divorce in the future, the procedure is very easy.
  • If there is something in the legal separation that does not work for you, your attorney can address it in the divorce papers before you go to court.

A legal separation is a step that can put you in a good position before you rush into a divorce. Like a divorce, you will see ads claiming you can file them yourself. However, there are laws in certain states that you may not know about. These laws are there to protect you. That is why you need an attorney. A simple oversight could cost you money that you could have collected for the rest of your life. Don’t make that mistake. Let an attorney file your legal separation. After that, you will have plenty of time to see how it works for you.

You may want to go forward with a divorce or you may want to stay legally separated for a while. It is your choice. The one thing you will not have to do is decide during the current stress of the nation. You are safe and secure legally and emotionally until you are ready to make a move. At that time, it is a stressless and simple act.

Feature photo credit: Vera Arsic

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