Differences Between Legal Separation vs. Divorce

A marriage is a legal relationship and you must go to court if you wish to dissolve the union. Many couples decide that they no longer wish to live together and will separate or divorce. Before you take the step to end your marriage, however, you need to understand the implications of the choice that you are making.

An experienced Las Vegas, Nevada divorce and family law attorney at Pintar Albiston can provide you with guidance and advice if you are considering ending your marriage. Our attorneys have experience with couples who decide to permanently dissolve their marriages, as well as with couples who wish to try living apart but who have not yet made the final choice to end their union permanently. There are important differences between legal separation vs. divorce and we can advise you on your options and help throughout either process. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

Divorce is a final end to a marriage. When you divorce:

  • A custody agreement or parenting time arrangement must be created stipulating how children will split their time and who has the authority to make decisions in the children’s lives.
  • An agreement must be reached regarding division of all marital assets and marital debts, as well as on whether either spouse will be responsible for paying alimony to the other.
  • You are no longer considered to be legally wed. Either spouse is free to remarry if he or she wishes to do so.
  • If you wish to get back together and live as husband and wife with your former spouse after divorce, you will need to legally remarry.
  • You may no longer file joint tax returns as husband and wife.

When you separate, on the other hand, this is not an official legal end to your marriage and your union is not dissolved. You may file tax returns jointly, or you may choose to file as married filing separately. You are not allowed to file as single. Neither spouse is legally free to marry anyone else, and if you decide to get back together you may do so without going through the remarriage process.

Many couples decide to informally separate, or live apart, before they officially end their marriage. If one spouse simply moves out or if you decide that you are taking a break from your marriage, this is not a legal separation. A legal separation actually involves putting a legal agreement into place saying you are separated and living independently.

Legal separation is not required before divorce. However, some couples will seek a legal separation because there are financial issues or issues related to custody that have arisen while the spouses are living separately but before a divorce is final. For example, if the breadwinner spouse moves out of the home, then a stay-at-home spouse may need financial support while the couple is separated but before a divorce. A legal separation agreement makes it possible for the stay-at-home spouse to secure support during the divorce. Likewise, if you are separated and are not being allowed to see your child, a legal separation can result in the creation of a temporary custody agreement that protects your rights.

Knowing the difference between legal separation vs. divorce is important so you can make the right choice for your situation.  A Las Vegas divorce lawyer at Pintar Albiston is here to help you. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the representation we can offer.