Marital Status: Difference Between Separated & Divorced

Written by stephany elsworth
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When two people who are married decide that they can no longer stay together, they can opt to either separate or divorce. There are several legal differences between the two.


A separation is when one partner moves out of the home. This step does not require any legal formalities, but until a court of law is involved, it is not technically a legal separation.

Legal Separation

To obtain a legal separation, one of the marital partners must file a petition with the Superior or Family Division Court. The legal separation is different from a regular separation because the family's assets and debts are legally divided and custody issues are decided. The legal process takes between eight and 10 months.


A divorce is different from separation because it officially ends the marriage or domestic partnership. The partners are no longer married to one another and are free to marry other people. The divorce process usually takes between eight and 10 months.

Advantages of Legal Separation over Divorce

One advantage of a legal separation over a divorce is that health insurance benefits will not be interrupted. Another advantage is that it affords the couple time to decide whether a divorce is necessary.

Disadvantages of Legal Separation over Divorce

The partners cannot marry other people while they are legally separated. In addition, the wife cannot revert to her former name.

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