What Are the Benefits of Legal Separation Vs. Divorce?

By David Ingram

Legal separation and divorce are two options for married couples who wish to part ways. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 34 percent of marriage relationships ended in divorce as of 2011, making this an increasingly significant issue. Legal separation offers married couples with serious relationship issues an opportunity to separate, just as they would in a divorce, but without the legal finality provided by a divorce. This provides a number of benefits to spouses and families.


Since legal separation resembles divorce so closely, the main difference – and benefit -- comes from the fact that legal separations can be reversed, reuniting reconciled spouses without requiring them to remarry. Legal separations allow spouses to gain a full understanding of what it is like to live without the other in their lives. This experience can often lead to a finalized divorce, but there is always the possibility that a separation can strengthen a relationship in the long run.


Divorce can have far-reaching effects on children's emotional health. A legal separation allows spouses to spend some time apart without turning children's lives upside down. Children do not have to witness the potentially long, emotional and stressful divorce process, shielding them from the ugly side of a failed marriage. Children do not have to deal with the psychological ramifications of name changes in the family unit, either, allowing them to still experience a tight family bond, even though their parents do not live under the same roof.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Financial Benefits

A legal separation can be less costly than a divorce in the long run, especially when both parties agree to the separation. In states that recognize them, obtaining an order for legal separation only requires a petition signed by both parties and filed in county court, as well as a signed agreement stipulating the division of property and provisions for child support and other financial support. Divorce battles, more often than legal separation cases, can be hostile. This can rack up large attorneys' fees and court costs. If both spouses agree to petition for a separation, the process can be completed without an attorney's assistance.


The simplicity of the legal separation process can have benefits outside of the relationship and family issues. Obtaining a legal separation generally does not disrupt life and work the way a divorce battle can. Both spouses can continue to function normally in their daily lives without the stress, emotional turmoil and time requirements that can come with drawn-out divorce cases.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Definition of Legal Separation and Divorce


Related articles

What Is an Unstable Emotional Household in a Divorce?

An emotionally unstable household during a divorce is one in which circumstances and moods are constantly changing. Family members, particularly children, do not know what to expect from day to day or moment to moment. The result is often fear and feelings of insecurity. According to Dr. Tracey Marks, an Atlanta psychiatrist and psychotherapist, research shows that lack of stability in the home, rather than the divorce itself, creates the most problems for adults and children.

The Average Cost for Divorce

According to a 2006 article on Forbes.com, divorce proceedings can range from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars, with the average cost of a contested divorce ranging from $15,000 to $30,000. Most of this money is spent on legal fees. The average divorce cost varies considerably depending on the type of divorce, how contentious the divorce is and whether you use options such as mediation or collaborative divorce.

Getting a Legal Separation in Arkansas

Arkansas is a little different from most states when it comes to marriage and divorce. There are two types of marriage in Arkansas: "regular" marriages and covenant marriages. To end a covenant marriage, a couple must undergo counseling mandated by the marriage agreement before they are allowed to divorce. However, legal separations are treated similarly in both types of divorce. In other respects, Arkansas has adopted contemporary ways to dissolve a marriage, including no-fault divorce and legal separations that allow couples a cooling-off period before formally dissolving their marriage.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

The Effects of Divorce on Society

Divorce can save people from a bad marriage, but research has shown that it can also debilitate a society. Divorced ...

The Termination of Marriage & a Legal Separation in Oklahoma

Divorce is a significant step and sometimes spouses like to take it slowly. Not all states recognize legal separation, ...

How to Get Free Divorce Papers

An uncontested divorce is one is which both partners agree on all of the aspects of the divorce, such as the grounds ...

Tennessee Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation -- individuals living together outside marriage -- is a growing trend in America. According to the U.S. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED