Difference Between Separation and Divorce

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The topic of separation and divorce naturally draws one’s attention to the concept of marriage. Marriage, being the union of two people who have mutual-love and shared companionship, becomes questionable when there’s a threat of dissolution.

The rise in divorce cases in the world today is ultimately due to various reasons that are often pressing, and some that may seem unrealistic. separation and divorce are sometimes used interchangeably.

Research has shown that it is unnatural, for couples to attempt dissolution of their marriage either by separation or divorce without any just cause.

The Difference Between Separation and Divorce

Possible reasons why couples would want to be separated or divorced include:

  • Unhappiness
  • Abandonment
  • Lack of commitment
  • Religious differences
  • Constant conflict
  • Infidelity
  • Financial challenges
  • Inducement of hard substances
  • Domestic violence among other things

The idea of separation or divorce centers solemnly on the dissolution of a marriage. The act of being divorced means to be separated. However, the legal interpretation of these terms differs even though they share a common interpretation of division, disconnection, and detachment.

Separation is the state or condition, in which couples remain married but live apart. This act is termed “Legal separation” as it reserves the rights of couples’ entitlements and benefits. For separation to take place, there has to be a mutual understanding between couples.

The 3 types of separation include:

Trial separation: This is the first step towards attempting reconciliation and giving your marriage a second shot. There are no visible changes or rules guiding the separation, just a distance away from each other. Couples can take a break from each other by living apart while still retaining their entitlements and rights.

Permanent separation: A permanent separation in a way might appear similar to an actual divorce proceeding, but it is not. It becomes attemptable when there’s no room for reconciliation and amendment. In this situation, couples only live apart and are not recognised as divorced.

The change in situation will have a corresponding effect on the entitlements and rights of the couples, such that there are specifications to ownership and possession, i.e. assets acquired and debts incurred. These become the sole responsibility of the spouse involved, including income earnings.

Legal separation: This is a legal status defining the marital status of separated couples, i.e. they are recognised as separated couples rather than divorced, and they are not permitted to re-marry.

Divorce, on the other hand, is the legal dissolution of marriage by a court order or other competent bodies. Separation and divorce are no different from each other. They have less distinctive differences as their similarities. In filing for dissolution, the same procedure is required/ undergone irrespective of the intention, be it separation or divorce.

A consensus has to reach in the areas of Parenting Care, i.e. Child Custody and Support, Asset Division, Debt recovery & Payment and most cases, Alimony. Considerable factors as to why most couples prefer the idea of legal separation to actual divorce proceeding include primary factor such as “Child Care” and secondary factors such as Family assets, Legal rights and Insurance benefits. Other factors are Religious beliefs, Aversion for divorce and Alimony.

The differences between separation and divorce include:

• Legal separation is a step towards change as it gives room for reconciliation, while a divorce is expressing displeasure and stating that there’s no possibility for change or reconciliation

• The proceedings for legal separation is less costly compared to divorce proceedings. In other to save cost, couples would prefer they are separated than get divorced

• Legal separation is reversible. It can be modified and altered while divorce has a legal binding stating permanent dissolution

• The concept of legal separation restricts couples to re-marry, while divorce permits for couples, to give marriage another trial with another individual

• A separated woman has the right to keep her spouse’s name, while a divorcee loses the right to have her spouse’s name attached to hers

All right, benefits and entitlements are reserved in both proceedings except for the differences mentioned above. Couples, who however have undergone either of these processes, have been recorded liable to suffer from distress, depression, health imbalance, and challenges.

Therefore,  it is advisable to weigh the odds, seek reliable advice from family or legal units. Counselling is very much advised before choosing to proceed with separation and divorce.


Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention – ncbi

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