What Are the Differences Between Divorce and Separation?

June 14, 2018
PIcture Of Family problem, issues concept. Father leaving his child and wife. Divorce, separation.

There are many different terms involved in divorce law that can get confused with each other, especially if you are unaware of the situation that you and your spouse are currently in. The two most common divorce terms that are thrown around are divorce and separation, but what exactly is the difference between the two?

How Are Divorce and Separation Different?

The most basic and obvious difference between divorce and separation is that you are technically still married during a legal separation, whereas in a divorce your marriage has officially ended. A legal separation is considered a court order that describes the duties of a couple while they are still married but are living apart. Legal separations can be helpful if the spouses still need to work through other financial and personal issues that are affecting the marriage. Other differences that stem from this basic difference are:

  • Health care: Separation allows for the retention of health care and other similar benefits. Certain benefits (like Social Security) will often terminate after a divorce.
  • Marital status: Separation permits you to retain your marital status legally, but you cannot remarry anyone. Once you are divorced, you are legally permitted to remarry.
  • Decision-making: Separated spouses are still considered next of kin and can still make financial or medical decisions. Divorced spouses, however, are no longer next of kin.
  • Financial debts: Separated spouses can still be liable for the debt of the other, but in a divorce, your debts are handled through the dissolution process.
  • Property rights: Separation preserves each spouse’s legal rights to any property benefits upon the death of the other spouse, but a divorce gets rid of these rights.
  • Remarriage/reconciliation: Divorce can’t be undone, and reconciliation is a lot easier with legal separation. You would have to remarry after a divorce if you want to be together again.

Our divorce attorneys are experienced in family law issues concerning divorce and separation. If you and your spouse live in the San Jose area and would like representation in divorce court, you should contact us for a free consultation or more information.