The difference between divorce and legal separation

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2023 | Divorce

Sadly, not all Oregon marriages are built to last. Unforeseen things happen that lead to breakdowns in relationships and couples decide to split. This doesn’t always mean divorce; legal separation is another option. This is how they compare so you can choose which is the better option for you.

Differences between divorce and legal separation

Although divorce and legal separation share some similarities, they are not the same. When you divorce, you and your spouse live separately and separate your finances. The court determines which spouse receives alimony and how much of it they receive; if you have children, the court also determines how custody is split. However, depending on the circumstances, one spouse might get custody while the other only has visitation.

When you divorce, you and your spouse are free to marry new people. This is one of the biggest differences from legal separation. When you’re separated, you remain married and mark your status on official forms. You cannot remarry and are still able to inherit from one another.

Why choose to divorce or get a legal separation?

All couples are different and one situation may warrant getting a divorce while another couple might choose legal separation. For example, if there’s a history of abuse in your marriage, you might consider ending things once and for all with a divorce. Some couples get a legal separation before divorcing; however, there are reasons why a married couple may choose separation as their option.

With a legal separation, you and your spouse no longer live together but still share benefits like retirement and Social Security. If you practice certain religions that don’t accept or allow divorce, separation is the best option available to you. If you and your spouse share children and get legally separated, the court determines a custody arrangement as well as spousal and child support. You and your spouse may reach an agreement on how to divide property and parenting time; in that situation, the court may formalize such agreements.