Legal Separation v Divorce

legal separation v divorce

Legal Separation v Divorce/Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

What is the difference between a legal separation and divorce?

You’re Still Married Even Though Legally Separated

Biggest difference – with a separation, you are still legally married.

Why get a legal separation rather than divorce?

There are 5 main reasons people choose to legally separate rather than divorce.

Trial Period

Many couples want the freedom to explore the possibility of divorce prior to legalizing. However, during this period, they do not want to be shackled with the possibility of financial entanglement.  In community property states, date of separation matters.

Health Insurance

Health insuance is often offered to a spouse as a dependent.  Once divorced, this is no longer available.  Thus, many couples stay married for health insurance.


You can obtain citizenship through being married.  Ending the marriage prior to citizenship being obtained causes problems.  Thus, some choose legal separation during this period.


Some religions, like the Catholic church, do not permit divorce without good cause.  Some people choose to stay separated and never divorce.


Every state has different rules regarding when you can file for divorce.  For example, you can only file for divorce in California if you have lived here for 6 months.  If you just moved here, you can first file for legal separation, and then convert it to divorce in 6 months.

Have a case like this?

Family matters are extremely personal, and it is important for us to know details of your case before giving advice. Each case is different, and it is important to find an attorney you trust. To arrange an appointment, please call us at (626) 765-5767 between 8:30am – 5:00pm, Mondays to Fridays, or fill out the form below.

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