Is Legal Separation Required Before Divorce?
Typically the answer to this question is no. The answer may differ though depending on the state in which one resides. The states all get to write their own rules regarding marriage and divorce. Some states have found it necessary to have a legal separation before they will agree to process a divorce. That being said, most do not have this requirement.
Legal separation and divorce are actually two different concepts in the law, and each has its own meaning. Knowing the difference is important for the couple who is considering getting a divorce in the near future.
The Difference Between Legal Separation And Divorce
The terms “legal separation” and “divorce” sound like they basically mean the same thing. It should not be surprising that people often have questions about what the difference is between the two things. Legally speaking, there is a difference.
A couple that gets a legal separation is not actually divorced. They remain married for legal purposes even though they are not actually living together anymore. They may choose to do this because they would like to have a trial period of being alone before they settle on actually getting divorced. Additionally, some prefer to be legally separated rather than divorced because of the matter of costs.
Divorce is the legal termination of a legal marriage. In this process, the couple is actually putting an end to their legal status as a married couple. Once the divorce has gone through the courts, the two parties are legally allowed to marry other people (or each other again) at any point down the road.
Trial Separation Vs. Legal Separation
Another question worth answering when it comes to separation involves the different types of separation that a couple may decide to pursue. Legal Zoom describes the difference between a legal separation and a trial separation. What they say about it is that a trial separation is an informal arrangement between both parties in the couple. It is when they live separately but do not seek court intervention in the matter.
Couples who pursue trial separation are not changing the legal status of their marriage, and they have no formal legal arrangement at all regarding anything to do with their finances or children. They are simply living apart to see what they want out of their marriage.
Legally separated couples have actually obtained a legal status from the courts. They still remain married, but the court has drawn legal guidelines for them regarding things such as the division of their property and the custody of their children.
Is This A Cheaper Option?
The answer to this question is essentially yes. It is often a lot less expensive to pursue a legal separation than it is to get a full on divorce. Of course, with a legal separation, the couple does not receive the benefit of no longer actually being married. In other words, the couple that gets a legal separation has to settle for the fact that they cannot be legally married to another person. Separation may be less costly, but it does come with strings attached.