Separation vs Divorce: What’s the Difference?

We use separation and divorce interchangeably most of the time, but both these terms are different with a specific legal significance. You need to understand these terms to find a suitable solution based on your relationship status. We will discuss divorce and a separation agreement with the differences to help you make the right decision. Keep reading and know the differences before making a decision.


What is Separation?

Separation means living separately without getting a divorce. When it comes to living separately, you can avoid a complex legal process. You can live apart, but it will impact your future rights. You can talk to an experienced lawyer and know how separation will affect your relationship status and legal rights. You can also consider a legal separation when you have kids and want to protect your and their financial interests and future.

The legal separation will bring a significant change to your relationship status. You will have to file a petition in court when considering a legal separation. A legal separation agreement will include visitation, support, child custody, and alimony. During the process, the legal system will divide your debts and family assets, but your marital status will be the same. Hence, the most noticeable difference between divorce and separation is marital status. You both will be husband and wife technically after the separation. However, divorce will separate you permanently.


What is Divorce?

Divorce means the complete dissolution of your marriage. During the process, the court will divide all your assets and make arrangements for your children. After the divorce, the wife can use her former name and live the way she wants. Also, divorced couples do not share tax filing statuses and insurance benefits.

The divorce will have more implications than a legal separation. The process will terminate a marriage and divide almost everything. As a result, you might not have any right over assets and other things of your spouse. Also, the court will decide the child custody, and you must follow them to avoid further legal complications.


What Are the Differences?

There are a few differences between legal separation and divorce. The most considerable one is divorce will dissolve your marriage permanently. However, separation will ensure separate living. You can consider separation if you want to stay in the marriage but live separately. However, you can file for a divorce if you do not wish to continue the relationship.

Here are the differences between divorce and separation.

  • You can file for separation whenever you want to get a break from your married life. However, you can file for divorce after completing one year of marriage. Hence, divorce will not be possible soon after the wedding. In that condition, you can file for a legal separation.
  • When divorce requires two steps, separation will need only one step. You can live separately without ending your marriage.
  • Divorce will dissolve your marriage permanently, but separation will release you from martial duties and responsibilities for a specific time.
  • You can get the judicial separation if you convince the court about your condition. However, divorce will require more effort. The court will first try to reconcile, and then it can proceed to divorce when both or any party does not agree to continue the marriage.
  • You can also use judicial separation as a justified ground to file for your divorce.
  • You can rethink and reconcile after judicial separation. But once you get the divorce, you will not be husband and wife anymore legally, and there is no scope to continue as husband and wife. Divorce will have permanent implications, but the effects of separation will be temporary, and you will have the flexibility to change your decision.


Divorce and separation are different legal terms. The consequences will vary, and you cannot decide without knowing the effects. The judicial separation will separate you from your spouse for a specific period, and you can patch up and reconcile if you want to continue your marriage. In brief, separation will release you from martial obligations and duties for some time. The objective is to give you time to rethink and decide about your marriage. However, you can use judicial separation as the ground for divorce. You can say a judicial separation can lead to divorce, but the divorce will dissolve a marriage.