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Legal Separation vs. Divorce: How To Know What’s Best

Wife And Husband Splitting House And Car During Divorce Process

When a marriage is no longer working, spouses have to decide whether to file for legal separation or divorce. Both options have pros and cons, making it difficult to determine the best option. Denver Family Lawyers can help break down the differences between legal separation and divorce to help you make the best decision for your family. Our team understands that this process can be complicated, but we are here to help.

Terms That You Should Know

Understanding the legal definitions of divorce and legal separation is key to assessing their differences.

Legally Defining Divorce

A divorce is defined as the legal termination of a marriage. When a divorce is granted, both parties are free to remarry. Getting a divorce can be long and complicated, especially if children are involved or the couple cannot agree on terms.

Legally Defining Legal Separation

A legal separation does not end the marriage like a divorce does. Instead, it allows the couple to live apart while still being legally married. This means they are still technically husband and wife but do not have to live together or share any assets. In some cases, couples may choose legal separation because they want to remain married for religious reasons but do not want to live together anymore.

Comparing Divorce and Legal Separation

Now that we have a basic understanding of each legal process let’s compare the two side by side.

Severing Legal Ties

The first big difference is that a divorce completely severs the legal ties between spouses, while a legal separation does not. If you are legally separated, you are still technically married. The second big difference is that you are free to remarry when you get a divorce, but when you are legally separated, you are not.

Delegating Property Ownership

Another key difference is how property is handled in each legal proceeding. When couples get divorced, their assets are generally split accordingly between the two parties. However, when couples choose legal separation, their assets remain separate. This can benefit couples who want to keep their finances separate but remain married.

Amount of Work Involved

Couples may also choose legal separation because it can be less expensive and less time-consuming than getting a divorce. This is because legal separations do not require as much paperwork or court appearances as divorces do.


Navigating Child Custody

Child custody can be complicated, especially if parents do not agree on the terms. If you are legally separated, you and your spouse will still have joint legal custody of any children from the marriage. This means you will still have a say in major decisions regarding your children’s lives. However, if you are divorced, the court may grant sole legal custody to one parent.

Pros and Cons of Each

Now that we have looked at the key differences between legal separation and divorce let’s explore the pros and cons of each legal option.

Pros of Legal Separation

  • Allows you to remain married while still living apart.

  • Can be less expensive than a divorce.

  • It may be less time-consuming than a divorce.

  • You and your spouse will still have joint legal custody of any children from the marriage.

Cons of Legal Separation

  • You are still technically married, which means you cannot remarry.

  • It can be challenging to get insurance coverage as a legally separated couple.

  • Couples often choose legal separation to try to save their marriage, but it does not always work.

Pros of Divorce

  • It severs the legal ties between husband and wife, which means you are free to remarry.

  • Allows you to divide your assets accordingly.

  • It may be the best option if you have disagreements that you cannot negotiate or compromise on.

Cons of Divorce

  • The process can be long and complicated.

  • It can be expensive, especially if you have to take your case to court.

  • It can be emotionally challenging, especially if you have children.

Choosing What’s Best For You

Now that we have gone over the key differences between legal separation and divorce, you may be wondering which one is right for you. The answer to this question depends on your unique situation. If you are unsure what to do, Denver Family Lawyers can help. Our team will sit down with you and assess your individual needs to help you make the best decision for your family.

To schedule a consultation, call us at (303) 225-3343 or visit us online.

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