Till death do us part” are wedding vows couples say to each other on that special day, which many will remember for the rest of their life. These special moments are cherished and favored, immortalized with pictures, and often deeply embedded in the couple’s hearts and minds. Yet, life has its ways of turning things on its head, and often the unexpected happens. A drift is created between the partners, creating a certain void that cannot be filled. The day comes, much to everyone’s disappointment, when the couple decides it’s time to take some time off the marriage or to end it altogether. And so the long legal process of putting all the affairs in order begins, with tons of paperwork and dozens of lawyers trying to sort out all the finances and properties the couple has. All the responsibilities they’ll have to share and all the agreements they’ll have to make to keep things as normal as possible for everyone.

Now, you might wonder what we meant by “taking time off” in the marriage, how can you separate while still technically married? Once you’ve ended things, shouldn’t that be it? Well, according to the law, being legally separated is not the same as divorce. Let’s delve into the terminology and see what the differences are.

Definitions and Legal Status

Let’s make the difference between legal separation and divorce. Now, divorce means severing any marital connections, obligations, and responsibilities; practically, it’s dissolving the marriage legally. After a divorce, the couple from that moment on are strangers in the eyes of the law, like the day they met. They don’t have any obligations towards each other anymore—no shared insurance, separate tax obligations—and often, in the aftermath of the divorce, their property and finances are being collocated between them.

Legal separation means the couple is still married and has shared responsibilities and obligations yet they don’t live together anymore nor are they as involved as a couple as they used to be. Legal separation allows them to live apart, while on paper they can use the benefits of being legally married. We understand you might be asking why someone would be legally separated but not get a divorce. There are several reasons, each benefiting the couple for various causes and grounds. Each deserves its own paragraph to explain it better, so let’s see!

Finances, Security Benefits and Retirement

Shared financial responsibilities can make it easier for both parties to live their separate lives with less burden, especially in the case of joint debts taken during their marriage on accounts of both their incomes. Now, you can imagine how it can be beneficial if both parties simply decide to still share these obligations, putting less strain on their income. There is also health insurance often covered through a spouse’s employer, including family, tax benefits, and pension rights. When it comes to retirement, many great retirement plans require both spouses to stay married for a certain number of years to qualify for a specific program as well.

Emotional Aspect

Often, the idea of reconciliation gives hope to both spouses, as often legal separation means both partners are going through a rough patch and experiencing certain changes yet still deeply care for each other and hope to someday patch things up. Often, it leaves less of a toll on both individuals and less of a strain on their mental well-being as opposed to a regular divorce.

Now, when it comes to children, it’s easier to explain to them that their parents are still married rather than tell them they’ve severed all connections. Especially the mental impact it has on a child, hearing their father or mother call each other husband and wife gives a certain sense of relief and hope.


As we said before, a divorce in legal terms is the involvement of the marriage completely severing all marital ties the two had, making them strangers in the eyes of the law as they day met. Now, it does raise the question of what a divorce means in terms of finances and all the responsibilities and obligations they’ve shared before.

Asset Division

In the case of a divorce between two people, a team of lawyers on both sides will make a proper estimation of the assets the two had before the marriage and the things they acquired after they married. First, there are two types of asset division, depending on the state you live in. There is community property and an equitable distribution. In the case of the latter, it doesn’t mean the division between joint debts and responsibilities is equal; rather, it means the shared responsibilities are arranged depending on the length of the marriage and the spouse’s income. On the other hand, in community property states such as California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Washington, Nevada, and others, it’s mostly 50/50 for everything they had at the moment of the divorce. As you can imagine, the divisions can become tricky and complicated, so the best option is to go for someone local and maybe find experienced Lake County divorce lawyers to help you navigate the complicated legal system and the whole asset division, which gets tricky after a certain point. It’s the best and safest option to look for someone local because of the above-mentioned differences in laws depending on where you live.

The Complexity of a Divorce and the Toll it Takes on the Couple

Divorces are much more complicated than people think. Bringing all the finances in order, the joint custody of the children, the property arrangements and the distribution of wealth, and all the paperwork, court hearings, going from lawyer to lawyer. Filing complaints if you’re not satisfied with the arrangements often leads to lawsuits against each other and all the impracticality also puts too much stress on both parties, especially the children. Legal separation is often the less “painful” option, so the reason why people go for it instead.

What Does It Mean for the Kids?!

Another key difference between a divorce and a legal separation is the shared responsibilities both spouses have to their kids. In the case of a separation, they can arrange their obligations on their own accord and still have the same rights as they did before. In the case of a divorce, there is the question of alimony, child support, and legal custody of the child. All this can create a strain on the children, often making them feel like property being divided between the parents while the parents are too occupied trying to avoid complete bankruptcy given the recent events and the new financial responsibilities they have.

If you ask what’s better, that’s simply something we cannot answer and depends on the relationship you have with your spouse, the emotions, financial obligations, shared responsibilities, and all the other things that come with being married. Think about it and decide once you’re absolutely sure.