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If you’re having serious problems with your spouse, a divorce might seem like the only way to split off and protect your finances. However, a legal separation may offer the same protection as a divorce and in some cases works out better. There are personal and financial benefits to consider when determining which is right for you, so let’s examine both options.
A legal separation is like putting your marriage on hold. Typically, both spouses move to different homes and start living separate lives. A legal separation is more formal than just moving apart though. You would need to get a court to approve your decision and put together a legal separation agreement. This is an agreement that divides property, sets an arrangement for raising your children, and ends the financial connection you have to your spouse.
A divorce actually ends your marriage. Beyond this major difference, a divorce is quite similar to a legal separation. You would need to get a court to approve this decision and come up with an agreement that divides property and figures out the plan for your children. Since divorce and legal separation are pretty similar, they usually cost about the same and take around the same amount of time to process.
Couples might choose a legal separation over divorce for both personal and financial reasons.
In other situations, it might make more sense to choose a divorce.
It is important to note that not all states allow legal separations. In these states, you’d need a divorce to financially split off from your spouse.
There are key differences between legal separation and divorce. And while we’ve outlined some of them above, only your financial advisor or lawyer can truly advise you on what would be best for you. We hope this article helps you have a more informed conversation as you work through your personal situation.
This article is a high-level summary comparing legal separation and divorce, is for information and educational purposes only; does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life; and, is not intended to serve as legal advice for divorce or financial planning to prepare for divorce but, instead, to supplement other information specific to your situation. Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making tax-related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit www.protective.com.