Divorce or Legal Separation? Which is best for me?

What’s the difference between legal separation and divorce in Utah? Which is the better course of action? I’m not sure which is the better way.

Answer: A legal separation is similar to divorce in that you’ll have to negotiate child custody, visitation of parent time, child support and spousal support or alimony and the division of your property and debt. But unlike divorce, you will still be married to your spouse just living and functioning separately. Only you can answer if legal separation is a situation that works best for you or your family generally. If you consider separation because you can’t bear the thought of divorce that’s probably a bad reason to seek a separation. If you know you need a divorce separation will only prolong many problems not solved them.

You might ask why would I want to be legally separated and basically divorced but still not have my marriage dissolved too.

Well one, if you want to preserve the chance for reconciliation separation gives you some breathing space without you having to end the marriage.

Two, some people agree to separation to preserve inheritance rights from a spouse.

Three, some people separate so that they don’t stigmatize themselves or their children by divorce.

Divorce or Legal Separation? Which is best for me?

Four, some couples feel they can’t go through a divorce for religious reasons.

Five, legal separation can keep a spouse still eligible for health insurance coverage from the other spouses’ job whereas divorce often causes loss of coverage in fact divorce always causes loss of coverage. So, note more and more insurance coverage for separated spouses, so be sure you know what your insurance company’s rule are.

Six, a legal separation also allows you and your spouse to continue filing taxes jointly which can lead to some tax benefits you couldn’t have if you were divorced.

Number seven, because you need to be married for at least 10 years to receive Social Security and certain military benefits through your spouse, some couples stay married but separate to qualify for those benefits.

Some of the risks of separation however, are one, you have no knowledge or control over what your spouse is doing with marital assets and debt.

Number two, separation gives your spouse opportunities to hide or dispose of assets.

Three, if your spouse’s circumstances change like a loss of a job or getting sick or hurt you may suffer consequently too.

Four, your spouse can move out of the state or even out of the country and with the kids, if you have kids, and that can cause all kinds of legal headaches.

Five, long-term separation can cause you to lower your standard of living making issues like alimony and child support harder to win if you get to the divorce phase.

Six if your spouse gets into legal trouble you can be implicated too.