When a couple’s marriage is on the rocks, it does not always mean that divorce is the inevitable resolution to their marital difficulties. In some circumstances, couples in Saint Louis County choose a legal separation over divorce. There are various reasons why some find legal separation preferable to divorce.
First, it is important to understand that an informal trial separation is not the same as a legal separation. A couple might voluntarily choose to live apart for a while before divorcing. However, for their separation to be a legal separation, there must be a court order that dictates the rights and responsibilities of each spouse, who are still married to one another even though they do not reside together. A divorce, of course, permanently ends a marriage.
Why would a couple choose a legal separation over a divorce? There are many reasons, some personal and some financial. For example, if the spouses wish for one spouse to remain a dependent on the other spouse’s health insurance, a couple who are legally separated may do this while a divorce would sever this relationship. Couples who are legally separated may still be considered next of kin, and thus can make decisions regarding their partner’s medical or financial affairs if their partner is unable to do so on his or her own. Similarly, if a couple is legally separated, they may still retain the legal right to property benefits if one of them passes away. This would not be possible if the couple divorces.
In addition, sometimes a person’s religion does not permit divorce. These people may choose legal separation, so they can remain married but do not have to live together. Also, a legal separation can be temporary, while divorce is permanent. Therefore, couples who just need some time apart to determine whether divorce is in their best interests may choose a legal separation. And, in both a divorce and a legal separation, the court can make decisions regarding child custody and visitation and property division. Therefore, if a couple is legally separated they will understand how these issues will work out should they ultimately divorce
In the end, deciding whether to pursue a legal separation or a divorce is a highly personal decision. Some couples may need the breathing room a legal separation provides, while others believe that simply ending the marriage through divorce is in their best interests. It is important that couples carefully weigh the benefits of legal separation versus divorce, so they can reach a decision that best meets their needs.