Marriage can be tough. While it is an uncomfortable subject to discuss, our lawyers at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey think it is important that you understand the differences between legal separation and divorce. Many times these terms are used interchangeably, but they are quite different from a legal standpoint.

  • How is a legal separation different from a divorce?  A legal separation does not put an end to a marriage, but it does enable the couple to live separately while remaining married. During the time the couple is living apart, they abide by a court order, which outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse.
  • What is covered by the court order? Issues that can be addressed in a separation agreement include division of assets and debts, child custody and child support, visitation schedules, and spousal support.
  • Can I choose to divorce at any point after our separation? Yes. It is important to note that the same issues addressed during the divorce process are also addressed during a separation agreement. Therefore, you should be satisfied with the terms of your separation agreement as they may end up being long-term. The separation agreement often sets the precedent for a subsequent divorce.
  • Why be “legally” separated if we can just live apart without a court order? A legal separation agreement can protect an individual in case his or her spouse fails to live up to the outlines of the agreement. Without a legal agreement, there is no accountability before a court.
  • What are the advantages of a legal separation vs. a divorce? Unlike a divorce, a legal separation allows couples time apart, which can often bring about clarity. Many times, couples return to their marriages when the conflict is settled. A legal separation also allows for the retention of certain benefits, like insurance, that a divorce would bring to an end.

No one gets married hoping to later separate or divorce. The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey sympathize with our clients who are going through such an unfortunate circumstance. Make sure you talk to an attorney if you have any further questions concerning legal separation or divorce.