Separation vs divorce – an analysis

Posted in Divorce.

“Confusing are the ways of the world”. These were the exact words Janet used when I asked her if she was going in for a divorce or a separation. Like Janet, many people are not aware of the differences between separation and divorce and the pros and cons of each. Before we actually delve ourselves deeper into the subject, it is necessary that we understand the prime difference between the two. Knowing the difference will help us make an apt choice.

Types of Separation

Most of us will be clear on the idea that a divorce will mean putting a legal end to a marriage relationship by a court of law. On the other hand, a separation process can take various forms.

  • Trial separation: A trial separation is a period for which the couple decides to stay apart to further decide on whether or not to separate permanently. This type of approach is an internal arrangement between the individuals in a relationship and is usually not legally recognized.
  • Legal Separation: In this type of separation, the court intervenes and provides a judgment on the division of assets, child custody and visitation and alimony. This is a situation where a couple might not want to go in for a divorce, but would want all the conditions pertaining to divorce being executed here.

Benefits of Legal Separation

There are many advantages that a separation offers over divorce which have been highlighted as follows:

  • A couple, who have gone for a legal separation, can always reconcile the differences between them and continue their lives as husband and wife without the intervention of the court. However, a divorce will require the two to get married again.
  • This comes in very useful when spouses don’t want to stay married for religious reasons but want all the conditions of a divorce imposed.
  • At times, a couple may want to opt for legal separation to take advantage of income tax deductions owing to spousal support payments. The money that is offered for spousal and child maintenance during this period is called separate maintenance. However, to enforce an income tax deduction the couple must be legally separated.
  • A couple, who would want to preserve the status of the coverage of their insurance policies or the health care benefits offered to them, might opt for legal separation.
  • Further, spouses claim that a legal separation has a psychological separation which divorce cannot offer. They feel that one can experience what a post divorce life could offer, even while staying within marriage. This separation period helps each of the individuals to work and sort out the problems in their individual lives.
  • Any asset that is purchased or any debt that is incurred will be solely attributed to the individual associated with these. However, for any kind of joint expenditure such as child custody and support, both the spouses will be responsible.
  • Usually, in a divorce you tend to spend a huge amount towards your solicitor fees. This can be avoided totally or kept to a bare minimum when one opts for a separation.
  • Unlike divorce, a separation still preserves the family structure and is always a wise option when considering the interests of the children in the family.
  • Separation Agreement

    Even in separation it is a good idea, that you draft a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a written agreement between you and your spouse on how you would want to settle affairs relating to the marriage. This will include issues but not limited to child custody, child support, sharing of marital home, division of assets, sharing of debts and name changes. A separation agreement becomes a valid document only if both the spouses sign it. However, you can never be forced to sign a separation document.

    Separation – The Last Word

    Opting for a separation is wise and advisable in all respects. Apart from costing you less, you can avoid all the trouble and tussle that are usually involved in a divorce proceeding.

    And, for all that you know your decision to separate might be taken in haste. Any relationship that has split will need a cooling period, and separation just provides that. A separation always gives you a chance to reconcile your differences and unite again unlike divorce where you will be expected to marry again. Further, keeping the interests of your children in mind, a separation is always a better decision at any time. Think diligently and act wisely in the common interests of one and all. Let us preserve our f

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