Separation ends all your financial connections to your spouse and permits you to live apart and seek your fortune without regard to him/her. You are still married but there is no longer any marital community. Divorce ends it all and allows you to remarry. The only reason to go with separation is if you have strong feelings against divorce and your spouse agrees.
There are two major reasons that people would select a legal separation over divorce. The first reason is that divorce is against his/her religion. The second reason is medial insurance. Once you divorce any medical benefits are cut off. A legal seperation, on the other hand, allows both spouses to be continue the same medical insurance plan that they had during the marriage.
If you divorce you may be eligible for coverage under your employer or you may qualify for Cobra Coverage. See link below for details on Cobra Health Coverage.
** This response is provided as general information only and does not constitute legal advice or otherwise establish an attorney client relationship. **
A legal separation is essentially the same thing as a divorce except that you remain married at the end of the case. Custody, child support, division of assets/debts, spousal maintenance/alimony are all decided and the only issue remaining is whether to divorce. Most couples will convert the legal separation to a divorce at a later date and it is extremely easy to do so since all other issues have already been decided. Call me if you have questions. My firm offers payment plans, too.
Sign up to receive a 10-part series of useful information and legal advice about the divorce process.