Separation vs. Divorce

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Divided couple

When a married couple decides that they can no longer stay together, a divorce is usually the way the parties lean.   For some, jumping into a divorce may not be the right answer.   Separation may be the way to go.

Legal separation is an option for those that desire to live apart but do not want to sever the bonds of marriage.    The parties may continue to refer to the other as a spouse, while separated.   The parties can petition the Court to enter an order establishing support, custody, parent-time, debt repayment, property division and other issues that naturally arise from a separation.

In a legal separation, the assets and property of the couple remain joint property, unless otherwise agreed.  As this is the case, both parties retain legal rights over the marital assets, lessening the chances that one of the parties will be unlawfully defrauded by the other.

Health Insurance Benefits

Divorce terminates not only the bonds of marriage, but also terminates the financial bonds between the parties.   One of the natural outcomes of a divorce is the termination of health insurance for the non-employee spouse.   Just because you can no longer live together does not necessarily mean that you want to deprive your spouse of the ability to obtain medical help.   A legal separation might be the answer as it allows the non-employee spouse to retain insurance benefits.

Social Security

In order to obtain social security benefits your marriage needs to last at least ten years.   If you are near, but have not passed the ten year mark of marriage, a legal separation may be the answer.   The legal separation will allow you to live your separate lives while waiting for the marriage to hit the ten year mark.


Married couples typically have the benefit of a lower tax rate and exemptions then do those filing as single.  Remaining married, through a legal separation, may be the answer for those that want to retain the tax benefits but no longer want to live together.


A legal separation allows the couple the opportunity to examine their options, while living apart.   While divorce may be the answer for some, legal separation gives parties ample time to make sure that they are taking the path that is correct for them.  The parties, if given the time, may find that they do not wish to live apart and may reconcile.

If you have questions about whether separation or divorce is right for you, contact our divorce and family law attorneys for a free consultation. Call Mountain View Law Group today at (801) 393-5555.

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