It can be difficult to see where to go when your marriage is in trouble. All options can seem daunting or set in stone, and each relationship is unique. When a marriage is seemingly beyond repair there are two main options for the couple: divorce or legal separation. Divorce is largely for couples who see no opportunity for repairing their relationship, while separation, legal or otherwise, gives the couple an opportunity to try and repair their marriage with the assistance of distance. If you’re looking into options for how to proceed with your relationship, it’s important to understand the implications of both options.
There are various degrees of legal separation, from separating living spaces and finances to dividing areas of shared living space and filing joint taxes, but the process is often similar to that of filing for divorce. While the process varies from state to state, legal divisions of assets consistently need to be approved by the court. Even if it is not required by the state, having legal assistance while dividing property and assets is highly recommended. It should also be noted that legal separation is required by some states before the divorce procedures can be completed.
The benefits of legal separation change from couple to couple, and what works for one couple might be disastrous for another. Legal separation can give the couple some space to sort out their problems, it can provide a non-permanent solution for couples who still love each other, and it can help both parties maintain benefits. Some employer-provided health insurance will cover legally separated spouses. Military benefits often extend to separated spouses, as well. Some may receive tax or social security benefits if they remain married, but these are best researched by each couple individually, as tax laws surrounding this area are complex.
Legal separation can be complicated, with all of the difficulties of divorce without all the court-mandated guidelines for life after separating. This means that child custody decisions might be slowed down or made more difficult without court-mandated mediation, along with other aspects of property divisions. Should the separation have no end in sight, whether the end is repairing the marriage or filing for divorce, the parties would not be legally allowed to remarry.
Divorce, or absolute divorce, describes the legal termination of a marriage. It requires legal action and court approval. A number of problems in a marriage can lead to divorce, including but not limited to:
- Having different values regarding money
- Getting married without thinking through the implications
- Different values regarding parenting
- Abuse, physical or sexual
- Substance abuse
All states offer no-fault divorce, meaning no one party will be legally blamed for causing the grounds for the divorce. 33 states currently offer options for filing for divorce with at least one party being at fault.
If the relationship is over, it is better to end it and move on than to separate but hope something comes back. Both parties will be legally allowed to remarry and will no longer have to file joint taxes. Couples without children can move on with their lives without ever needing to speak again if that’s what they want.
Filing for divorce can be time-consuming. If your state requires a waiting period or period of legal separation, it could easily take over a year before you even begin filing the serious divorce paperwork. Mediation on child custody cases are often required, and topics of alimony and child support are keeping the family law business alive. Absolute divorce will also cut off dependent spouses from social services they may rely on, such as military benefits. Just because you’re getting divorced doesn’t mean you don’t still care about your spouse.
Marriage is a commitment that isn’t always beneficial for those involved. This is why divorce rates rise during periods where couples tend to spend more time together. Divorce and legal separations are serious decisions and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but should be considered if your marriage is feeling damaging.