Legal Separation Advantages and Disadvantages
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

Legal Separation Advantages and Disadvantages

When you end your marriage it’s a very personal thing to go through. Some of your friends may offer advice on how they ended theirs, but it might not be the perfect way for those involved in your choices. This is something many states understand – as a result, there are a lot of methods from annulments to complete a divorce in addition to legal separation. When you choose legal separation, there equally upsides and downsides.

Legal Separation Advantages

As there are similarities between legal separation and divorce, some of the advantages of legal separation are:

  • When couples decide to choose to get a divorce, the agreement for separation may be the grounds of the divorce separation.
  • There could be tax benefits for filing your taxes jointly.
  • Assets and debts may be regarded as independent entities and property as there is a legal separation.
  • You could still be qualified for social security benefits if you stay married and reach the 10 year requirement for that purpose.
  • Specific benefits from the military can be kept.
  • Health insurance may carry on using the benefits of the other spouse. Nevertheless, you’ll have to check the provisions on the policy to determine what happens when a couple legally separates.
  • Religious reasons may mandate it’s advisable for you both to stay married.
  • It allows enables the couple a little time and space to live separately and determine if it helps their relationship or leads them to divorce. Additionally, an agreement of separation addresses how various issues will be handled when the couple isn’t together.

A legal separation may also provide the steppingstones for an actual divorce once the judge decides on the divorce agreement. Whichever party, at any moment, may modify the legal separation case into a case wanting a divorce.

Legal Separation Disadvantages

Disadvantages of legal separation may be a little more complex to clarify as one part of the separation may have an effect on another.

Legal Separations and Divorce Complexity

Oddly enough, legal separation may take as long and be as intense as a divorce process as it involves things like distributing assets and debts, and division of property. Those that divorce after a separation will have to do the entire process over again and those that choose to continue their complete married relationship usually feel as if they’ve endured a divorce process to get the marriage back! Additionally, if specific aspects of the separation can’t be agreed upon, the only alternative is to leave it up to the courts, causing more stress and cost. Nevertheless, you may decide to do an unofficial separation, or if it is believed there is little to no chance of the couple getting back together, continuing with the divorce process.

The Mental Strain of Legal Separation And Divorce

A lot of couples end up coming up short in their efforts as they believe a legal separation might be a good method to determine if they should stay married. Nevertheless, the mental strain it causes typically leads to the downfall of the relationship. As mentioned above, a legal separation is usually as upsetting an experience as enduring a divorce and the headaches it causes could end what was already an unstable relationship. It’s a good idea to utilize an informal separation if you want to venture into those waters. You’ll have the equal space devoid of the added stress and mental strain resulting from a legal separation.

Legal Separation Might Not Be Needed

Couples typically think legal separation is a crucial step in understanding where the marriage is headed. But most of the time, it’s just not the case. Couples reach nearly all the same goals by using an informal separation devoid of the added stresses in addition to the dedication and cost of a legal separation. At first, it might seem as if legal separation is the only way the marriage can survive but a better gauge of how recoverable the marriage is, is usually better evaluated if an informal separation is in place.

State by State

Legal separation isn’t something each state acknowledges and could be called a different name. For instance, in Maryland, it’s called “Limited Divorce” whereas in New Jersey it called simply “Divorce without bed and board.” Having said that, the legal separation guides are basically the same no matter which state you live in.

Still Married?

In states where infidelity is still in play, for instance, in Tennessee and Maryland having sexual relations with a new partner will fall under their law of adultery. This allows your spouse the opportunity to file for divorce on the grounds of infidelity and can affect spousal support or property division. This might even have an effect on your potential to date again or settle down with another person. Decrees of Legal Separation means that you’re still married, and, in these states, they might take a sexual relationship with someone else as infidelity, no matter what the condition of the relationship between you and your spouse.


Legal separation might be the way to go if you wish to stay married but live individual lives. But some states don’t allow the separation decree to turn into a divorce decree, meaning that you’ll need to go through the whole process again and of course the cost has at the minimum doubled!

Other Options

If you reside in a state where legal separation isn’t recognized, there are still methods to avoid common issues if you wish to separate legally. Florida for instance; you can acquire separation agreements and it turns into an agreement that’s binding once both of you sign it. It typically can’t be enforced in a family court but if the provisions of the agreement are broken, you can head to civil court. Inheritance rights are relinquished in agreements like this and later you might be allowed to include this contract in a final decree in the divorce case. This, on the other hand, is dependent on the state in which you reside.


  1. Group, Written by Canterbury Law, and Canterbury Law Group. “Legal Separation Advantages And Disadvantages.Canterbury Law Group, 27 Jan. 2020,

Speak with Our Legal Separation Lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona Today

Ogborne Law can help with a legal separation in Arizona. Our legal separation lawyers have many years of experience in drafting separation agreements. Our law office is located at 5020 E Shea Blvd Suite 240, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 inside the Paradise Valley Plaza.

While the legal separation process is not for everyone, it can save you money, stress, and hassle vs getting a litigated divorce. Speak with our legal separation lawyers in Phoenix, AZ to find out if legal separation is right for your family.

If you’re ready to start your consultation with Ogborne Law, visit our Consultation request page.

Contact Ogborne Law today and let us show you how we can help protect your kids and your family.

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