Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Is A Legal Separation?

What Is A Legal Separation?

An arrangement ordered by the court, a legal separation is when married couples live apart from each other and lead independent lives. It is a popular option when the parties concerned are considering the future of their relationship abut also want to ensure financial responsibilities and other boundaries are going to be honored by both sides. In some areas, this is a necessary step in the divorce process. Read on to learn more.

Facts To Consider

  • The court may order specific obligations in the areas of finance, visitation of a child or children as well as custody of a child or children and support for a child or children.
  • Although legally separated there may be particular benefits there are entitlements too.
  • For some people spiritual beliefs and financial reasons as well as for the wellbeing of minor aged children may be a factor in obtaining a legal separation versus a divorce.
  • A legal separation is an agreement ordered by the court where the two parties have separate lives, and this means they usually live separately.
  • Legally separated couples can sometimes remain “insured” on the other person’s health, dental and vision insurance—check with your carrier before going this route.

How Does It Work?

There are many reasons for wanting a legal separation including:

  • Religious reasons forbidding divorce, whereas legal separation allows the majority of the benefits of divorce.
  • When the marriage still has the possibility of recovery.
  • Legal separation is sometimes best for a couple with minor aged children, promoting stability.
  • The retention of retirement and health benefits.

Some couples choose this route without a court order and many are embracing informal separations and no-fault divorce cases, making legal separation in a formal sense less common than it used to be. When the separation date arrives, the party’s ability to spend money from a bank account or credit card held in both names is limited – as well as bringing in controls over vehicles and property. Each party following the separation ate becomes responsible for their own finances.

Legal Separation Benefits

Once a couple have reached their tenth wedding anniversary certain future benefits may be contended with. When deciding to separate, the legal separation agreement may keep some entitlements of benefits intact. For example, those married to members of the military must remain married for ten years to benefit from the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. Once married for ten years, it also means you can benefit from particular social security benefits. You may be able to draw a larger sum if you can draw the benefits of the social security retirements of your former partner. Nonetheless, there are time a legal separation is preferential to divorce. The separation may be temporary whereas a divorce is a permanent condition absent remarriage. It can also be used as a “last chance saloon” to save a troubled marriage. Legal separation also has the benefit of being less costly than a divorce and to go through the process before continuing with divorce can make the whole situation for a child or children easier to endure.

Legal Separation vs Divorce

Legal separation is a legal process that allows a married couple to live apart and divide their finances while remaining married, as opposed to divorce, which is a legal process of ending a marriage. Neither may feel like a great option. Still, understanding what each means can help. Your unique situation drives whether you should choose legal separation or divorce according to BestLegalChoices.


Mitchell Grant, Julia Kagan. “What Is a Legal Separation?” Investopedia, Investopedia, 29 Jan. 2020, www.investopedia.com/terms/l/legal-separation.asp.

Need a Legal Separation Lawyer in Scottsdale or Phoenix?

As family court lawyers, we have built a network of Arizona mediators, attorneys, tax specialists, estate planners, financial planners, child specialists, real property appraisers, adult and child therapists and parenting coordinators who are here for you if you ever need them. Our lawyersdivorce mediators and collaborative divorce attorneys in Scottsdale are here to make your divorce less stressful and keep you in control and the costs contained. Call today for an initial consultation at 480-744-7711 or [email protected]. Our family lawyers can also help with divorce litigation, child custodylegal guardianshippaternityprenuptial agreements, and more.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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