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Legal Separation or Divorce: Which Is Right for You?

divorce attorney long island

The current divorce rate in the United States is one of the highest worldwide at approximately 2.9 people out of 1,000. However, despite being a popular legal remedy for married couples who wish to leave their relationship, it is not the only option.

Parties in a faltering or failing marriage sometimes opt for legal separation instead. Like divorce, a legal separation results in a formerly married couple living separate lives.

Couples looking for a mutually favorable financial, legal, and emotional solution need to determine which option is most suitable for their unique situation. To help you choose which is right for you, read on about the key differences between divorce and legal separation.

Defining Divorce and Legal Separation

A legal separation is a court order that mandates the couple’s rights and duties while living apart. The couple maintains the legal benefits and responsibilities of a married couple, but they will have separate living arrangements. They can have independent financial and legal oversight for child custody and child support.

Meanwhile, a divorce legally dissolves the marriage entirely. It fully ensures the protection of either party’s rights as individuals, including the protection of their individual finances. For some couples, this is a crucial factor in deciding whether to divorce or separate.

Making the Decision: Some Factors to Consider

Relationship With Your Spouse

When choosing between divorce or legal separation for financial reasons, consider your relationship with your spouse.

If you are on good terms, or if future reconciliation is possible, you or your lawyer can draw up a legal separation agreement. This document details your decisions on a number of issues, such as child support, visitation, and spousal support. It also details your rights and responsibilities while under the separation agreement.

Legal separation documents are long, detailed, and complex and should not be prepared without the assistance of an Attorney.

Keep in mind, however, that a legal separation will not dissolve your marriage. For this reason, it’s often preferred by couples who wish to try to work things out. Legal separation is not ideal if the separating parties do not get along or if abuse occurred in the relationship.  Separation agreements can become complicated if there are retirement accounts involved.

If both parties get along and communicate well but have no plans to reconcile, then an uncontested divorce may be a more suitable option. However, if they cannot agree to all the terms outlined in the divorce agreement, then the next step would likely be a contested divorce. For this option, hiring an attorney to represent you is highly advisable.


Some couples opt for legal separation over divorce because the latter goes against their religious beliefs. Like a divorce, a legal separation means both parties can live separately for as long as they wish to, making it a more feasible option for those whose religion prohibits divorce.


If you are legally separated, you cannot marry another person. However, if you do meet someone new and decide to remarry, you can use your separation agreement as a basis for your divorce at least a year after it was filed.

Consult Experienced Attorneys

It’s always best to explore all legal options available to you and your spouse with the help of an attorney well-versed in divorce and separation matters. An attorney utilizes a wealth of knowledge and experience to help their clients determine which option is the most beneficial, financially and otherwise, and suitable to their goals and needs.

At the Law Offices of Ian S. Mednick, P.C., we are passionate about protecting our clients’ best interests. Contact us today to book a free consultation on divorce or legal separation matters. You may also browse our resources to learn more about your options.