What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?

At the end of a divorce, the parties’ marital status is returned to “Single”. Unlike divorce, a legal separation does not terminate the marriage. You and your spouse remain legally married so neither of you can remarry another person.

The same legal issues are addressed in a legal separation as in a divorce like child custody and visitationchild supportspousal support, and the division of assets and debts. Some parties choose to pursue a legal separation to allow time to determine if divorce is the right step and some choose legal separation for religious or financial reasons.

If neither party meets the residency requirements to file a divorce action, the parties may file a legal separation first because there are no residential requirements to request a legal separation. Both parties must also agree to pursue a legal separation. If the responding party wishes to pursue a divorce rather than a legal separation, the moving party does not have a choice.