Reasons for Legal Separation Instead of Divorce

It’s not uncommon for couples to choose a legal separation before filing for divorce. Legal separation defines legally enforceable rights and obligations but does not permanently end the marriage.

If you decide to become legally separated, here are four things you need to know:

1. You remain married upon the entry of a judgment of legal separation. No matter how long you are legally separated, you must divorce in order to legally remarry.

2. In Connecticut, the process of becoming legally separated, and divorced, are identical. Obtaining a legal separation is generally not any faster or easier than getting divorced. When it comes to property division, alimony, spousal support, child support and custody, the need for negotiation and mediation are essentially the same. What is missing in legal separation is the litigation (courtroom battle) that comes with a contentious divorce.

3. If you are legally separated and decide to reconcile, all you have to do is file a declaration of resumption (of marital relations) with the court. This is a simple process.

4. If you are already legally separated and decide to get divorced, your next step is to file a motion to convert a legal separation to a dissolution of marriage.

While most of your discussions will revolve around financial matters, there are times when a legal separation is not about the money. At least…not right away.

Here are reasons why to chose legal separation instead of divorce:

The need to remain married in order to meet the 10-year requirement for social security benefits. The decision to legally separate generally means there is a strong desire to provide financial support to the spouse.

The ability to continue receiving insurance benefits under the spouse’s plan. This can be a huge benefit, especially if one party might otherwise find it hard to obtain or maintain health care coverage.

It is often advantageous to remain married for tax purposes. Be sure to ask your divorce attorney or tax advisor.

The desire to retain certain military benefits or pensions. Again, be sure to speak with your divorce attorney or tax advisor.

With the housing market in a state of flux and employment being anything but stable, many couples decide not to rock the boat financially. Legal separation is one way to prevent assets from being unfairly distributed or sold at a loss.

In some circles, divorce carries enough of a stigma (or complication) to where it is more comfortable, or convenient, to remain married in name only. Some couples believe separation, not divorce, is easier on their offspring, both emotionally and financially. Then there are the couples who don’t see a benefit to getting a divorce, especially those who don’t ever expect to remarry.

Of course, sometimes legal separation or divorce IS about the money. There is no reason to sacrifice your financial well-being (or your family’s) because you are getting divorced.

Here are some reasons why you might legally separate, before get  a divorce:

  • A legal separation will help you determine where you and your children will live.
  • A legal separation provides a support and visitation schedule, which lends emotional and financial stability to your lives.
  • A legal separation sets forth who is responsible for what bills, and will outline how assets will be distributed, should the couple eventually decide to divorce.
  • A legal separation protects you from being held responsible for any debt, liabilities or taxes your spouse incurs after the date of separation.

To learn more about legal separation and how it works, read our legal separation FAQ here.

If you are a friend, family member, or perhaps the adult child of an unhappy couple, it is important to respect the reasons why two people stay married, separate, divorce, or reconcile.

If you are a couple trying to decide which course of action is best for you, the legal team at CT Mediation Center in Connecticut is ready to answer your questions. Please call us today to schedule an appointment. 

Collaborative Divorce Attorney and Divorce Mediator Angela Green

Attorney Green works exclusively with couples or parties who would rather spend their energies and resources working constructively to resolve their differences rather than "winning the fight." She helps spouses and litigants reach comprehensive, well informed agreements without the emotional and financial toll of court-based litigation. She has mediated hundreds of cases ranging from simple to complex financial matters, businesses, and high net worth cases.