Legal Separation or Divorce?

April 4, 2022

Legal Separation: An Alternative to Divorce

Divorce isn’t the only path when a marriage breaks down. Legal separation offers a formal, court-approved way for couples to live apart while remaining legally married. This option appeals to many for a variety of reasons. it is different than being separated, which requires no formal court order.

Why Choose Legal Separation Instead of Divorce?


  • Religious beliefs: Some religions strongly oppose divorce. A formal separation allows couples to separate without violating their faith.
  • Maintain benefits: Married couples often qualify for shared benefits like health insurance or joint tax filing. A separation may let you retain these while living apart.
  • Time to decide: Sometimes, couples aren’t certain if divorce is the right solution. Separation offers a trial period with boundaries, letting them evaluate their future without the finality of divorce.
  • Protecting children: In cases of instability or uncertainty, separation can provide structure and clarity for children while minimizing disruption until parents make longer-term decisions.

What Does A Legal Separation Do?


A court order is required to formalize separation. This order establishes ground rules and addresses key issues, including:

  • Parenting Plan: Defines where children will live and how much time they’ll spend with each parent.
  • Child support: Sets financial obligations for the children’s needs, much like in a divorce.
  • Division of property and debts: The court starts separating finances, deciding who owns what and who’s responsible for outstanding debts.
  • Spousal support (alimony): In some cases, one spouse may be ordered to provide financial support to the other.

Important Notes


  • You’re still married: LA Court ordered separation doesn’t end the marriage. You can’t remarry without a formal divorce.
  • Reconciliation is possible: If you and your spouse work things out, you can reconcile and resume living together without further legal action. You will need a Court order to get rid of the formal orders.
  • Transitioning to divorce: Many couples use legal separation as a stepping-stone toward eventual divorce. The separation agreement can often form the basis of a divorce settlement, simplifying the process.

Is Legal Separation Right for You?

This is a deeply personal decision with complex legal and emotional aspects. Here’s when legal separation might be a good fit:

  • Unsure about divorce: If you need time and space to decide your relationship’s future, a formal separation can offer that structure.
  • A temporary solution: If circumstances like military deployment or a temporary health crisis demand separation, a formal separation provides a framework.
  • Your situation is complex: Big assets, children with special needs, or significant financial disparities may make formalizing a separation a smart initial step, even if divorce is the eventual goal


My office does both Legal Separations and Divorces. The price is the same, as they involve the same work. If your marriage is breaking or broken, I would love to see if I am the right lawyer to help you. Reach out to my office to get started.