Divorce vs. Separation Law 

Legal Help for Marriage Issues 

Divorce vs. Separation Law If you do not wish to live with your spouse any longer, but are unsure whether you are ready for a divorce, you have the option of a legal separation.  

Just like a divorce, it will involve negotiation on issues such as child custody, child support, visitation, spousal support, and property division. But unlike divorce, your legal status will be of a married person, even though you will live separately from your spouse.  

Attorneys at SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) law firm provides professional legal advice and services to clients in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and surrounding locations.  

Key Distinctions  

The most fundamental difference between a divorce and a separation is that while your marriage gets dissolved in a divorce, a legal separation means that you are still married. Other key distinctions between the two include:  

Marrying another Person  

In a legal separation, you are not free to marry another person, but in a divorce, once it is final, you have the freedom to remarry.  

Healthcare and Other Benefits 

Healthcare and other benefits, including some social security benefits will end once your divorce is final. But in a legal separation, you can continue to retain these benefits.  


In a legal separation, you and your spouse are still legally viewed as next of kin, which means either party can make medical or financial decisions on behalf of the other in specific circumstances. This option is non-existent in a divorce because the divorced parties are not next of kin under the law. 

Debt Liability  

A legal separation may not absolve a spouse of some or all of the debt liabilities that occurred during the marriage. But in a divorce, the division of debts is finalized at the time of dissolution of marriage.  

Right to Spousal Property 

In a divorce, property rights over each other’s property are extinguished once the divorce is final. In a legal separation, the legal rights of the surviving spouse to the property of the other spouse are preserved in the event of his or her death.  

Reconciliation / Remarriage 

It is not possible to undo a divorce, and if you want a legal reunification, the only option available is to remarry. In a legal separation, reconciliation is a legal possibility.  

Similarities between a Divorce and Legal Separation 

If both parties fail to reach an agreement between themselves on certain issues, the court will decide on the following matters – whether in a divorce or a legal separation:  

  • Child custody 
  • Visitation rights of the non-custodial parent 
  • Property division (whether it is a divorce or legal separation, the division of marital assets will depend on several factors, and it may not be an “equal” division.)  
  • Separation maintenance (this is the equivalent of alimony and child support in a legal separation, but it has different effects compared to a divorce, and is usually obtain through a “motion pending litigation.”) 

Lawyers at the SBEMP law firm serve clients from Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Inland Empire, Orange County, Coachella Valley, Costa Mesa, San Diego, New Jersey, New York, and nearby locations for a range of legal practice areas.  

 Divorce vs. Separation Law 

For more information or to request a consultation please contact the law offices of SBEMP (Slovak, Baron, Empey, Murphy & Pinkney) by clicking here. 

SBEMP LLP is a full service law firm with attorney offices in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, Inland Empire, Rancho Mirage), CA; Indian Wells, CA; Costa Mesa (Orange County), CA; San Diego, CA; New Jersey, NJ; and New York, NY.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it. This blog post may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained within this blog post. Before acting or relying upon any information within this newsletter, seek the advice of an attorney.

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