So it’s come to this: you’re ready to stop seeing your partner everyday and no longer want to be legally tied to them.
Whatever brought you here, we’re sorry – divorce isn’t an easy thing. But we’re going to try to make it easier by helping you figure out if you need a separation or divorce, in this guide.
What’s the Difference Between a Separation and a Divorce?
You’ve heard of a divorce, a separation, and an annulment, but what does each action mean, and who is it right for? That’s a good question.
In most cases where you and your partner had a traditional marriage, you’ll be seeking a divorce. A divorce essentially cancels the contract you signed when you got married (your wedding certificate) and is a “dissolution of marriage”.
In a divorce, you’ll divide the custody, the property, assets, and debts, and establish spousal or child support. Once all that is done, you’ll sign the final papers and have officially finished being married to your partner.
A separation includes all of the aspects above, except for the cancelling or dissolution of the marriage contract. You will remain legally married, but your lives, your assets, and your children will be separated.
It is easier to reverse a separation than a divorce, which is why most people choose this option, if they’re not quite ready to divorce or, in some cases, if one party refuses to sign divorce papers.
A contested divorce can sometimes end in separation first.
An annulment is an “undoing” of a marriage. It was popularized by the Catholic church and can only be given when people claim they never consummated the marriage.
While a divorce ends a marriage, an annulment treats it as if it never existed. There are very few circumstances where an annulment is used instead of a divorce.
The Pros and Cons of a Separation or Divorce
The pros of both a separation and a divorce is that you no longer have to share your life, legally, with a partner. Both still provide a division of assets, custody, and all other shared property. Parties still have to pay spousal or child support in both cases, which could be a pro or a con, depending on what side you’re on.
The cons of divorce are that it’s final, it’s expensive, and it can take a long time. Make sure that you get the best divorce attorney possible as that will mean a better outcome for you.
The cons of a legal separation is that you will have to get divorced eventually, if you want to get remarried.
However, a separation has the unique benefit of being able to revoke the separation if you and your spouse decide to try again.
A Separation or Divorce: Which is Right for You?
We can’t diagnose a legal situation in 500 words, nor can we give you personalized legal advice without you being our clients. But we can give you some clarity about which option to research first, and we hope we did that in this guide.
Browse our site for more easy-to-understand legal articles.