Understanding the Key Differences Between a Connecticut Legal Separation and a Divorce

  •   |   Meghan Freed

Like so many issues facing you when you are considering a divorce, the differences between separation, legal separation, and divorce can be confusing. For example, it is not unusual for a couple to live separately for awhile before filing for divorce. Most of them use this trial separation as a breather to decide what they really want to do about the relationship. This is not the same as a legal separation.

Connecticut is one of the states that provides for a decree of legal separation, which serves the same legal function as a divorce order. In a separation, however, a couple remains legally married and may not remarry without divorcing first. Legal separation used to be more popular back when it was somewhat common for advantageous employer health insurance benefits to be offered to a spouse despite the separation. Many couples now decide that divorce makes more sense than legal separation, but what approach works best for you will depend on your particular situation.

Same Issues are Covered in Both Legal Separation and Divorce

Both legal separations and divorces address division of marital debts and assetscustody and parentingalimonychild support, and other key issues that require a lot of time and money to resolve. Just as with a divorce, the alternative approaches to litigation — mediation and collaborative law — are available to you and your spouse for a separation. If you and your spouse cannot agree on something important, the default is litigation, just as with divorcing couples. Finally, if you end up divorcing after the separation, you essentially have to go through parts of the same process twice.

Barring other factors, if there is a chance you might reconcile, you might decide that an informal separation involves less hassle than a legal one. If you ultimately do decide to divorce, you won’t have to go through the court system twice.

Both Divorce and Legal Separation Can Be Stressful

If your primary goal is to take some time to live apart and see if divorce is actually what they want, opting for legal separation may, on the surface, seem like a good way to take a time-out and decide whether or not you want to remain married. The problem is that it entails so much legal formality that it can put additional strain on the marriage. An informal separation will give you and your spouse the same amount of time and personal space without the cost and commitment of filing for legal separation.

Each Divorcing Couple is Unique

Beyond getting some time and space to reflect, there are other factors that may make you lean towards legal separation as opposed to divorce. For example, some people take the legal separation route for religious reasons. For others, there are financial reasons to legally separate rather than divorce — for example because they want to continuing to remain technically married in order to meet the ten year requirement to qualify for certain social security benefits of a spouse. At Freed Marcroft, we often guide clients through the pros and cons of legal separations versus divorce in light of their unique circumstances and goals.

Legal Separation Does Not Allow Remarriage

Legal separation applies restrictions you might find hard to live with, such as the ability to date without any hope of marrying another person. A divorce decree will leave you both single and free to remarry.

The Comprehensive Connecticut Divorce Guides

Alimony and property division are two of the most important issues in divorces.  And, they are two of the most confusing. Connecticut has no set formulas or rules on (1) whether there will be alimony, and, if so, (2) how it’s calculated or (3) how long it will last. Nor do we have any set formulas or rules on how property will be divided. The good news is that creates tremendous flexibility for experienced divorce attorneys to craft an individualized approach. In order to prepare to make solid and informed decisions, you need to understand how property division and alimony work.  Our Comprehensive Connecticut Divorce Guides tell you everything you need to know about alimony property division in Connecticut.

If you and your spouse are contemplating separation or divorce, please contact Freed Marcroft today. We will set up a consultation to review your circumstances and help you reach a decision that’s right for you.


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Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC