Understanding the Key Differences Between a Connecticut Legal Separation and a Divorce
Like so many issues facing you when you are considering a divorce, the differences between separation, legal separation, and divorce can be confusing. This guide will help you understand the key differences, so that you will be empowered to make the right decision for you and your family.
Separation (or Living Apart) versus Legal SeparationIt is not unusual for a couple to live separately for a while 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 essentially 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. Importantly, just as there is no "common law marriage" in Connecticut, there is no "common law separation." No matter how long you and your spouse live separately, you will not be legally separated unless or until you go through the formal court process.
What approach works best for you will depend on your particular situation. Speak with an experienced divorce and family law attorney to help understand the potential pros and cons of divorce versus legal separation in your particular situation.
The Same Issues are Covered in Both ProceedingsBoth legal separations and divorces address division of marital debts and assets, custody and support arrangements for minor children, 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.
Each Couple is UniqueBeyond 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 RemarriageLegal 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.