When marriage comes to a difficult phase, a couple can end it either through legal separation or through divorce. While legal separation can only be temporary and doesn’t necessarily have to mean the end of marriage, a divorce makes the marriage officially over. Even though many couples never get back together after a separation, they still don’t file for divorce, usually due to the financial reasons.

Legal Separation

If a couple opts for a legal separation, the court will thereby outline the responsibilities of both parties. This gives the couple an opportunity to share benefits such as health insurance even after they were separated. The dependent party still has the right to remain on their spouse’s plan, regardless of the separation. If they eventually decide to take the next step, and officially end the marriage, the dependent party will be able to temporarily stay on the health plan until he or she obtains their own insurance.

The benefits of staying married over filing for divorce include the advantage of certain income tax benefits a couple can take, including possible increases in deductions. Additionally, if a marriage has lasted longer than ten years, an ex-spouse can receive a share of the other ex-spouse Social Security benefits.

Legal separation can also be bad for the finances. Namely, debts are usually shared by married couples, which means that if one spouse falls behind on payments, both spouses are at risk of having their credit rating compromised. The assets of each spouse can drastically increase or dwindle if a couple is separated for a long time. The longer the separation lasts, the more money will the better financially positioned partner have to pay the other one, in case they actually go through with the divorce.


After the divorce is final, the ex-spouses no longer enjoy the legal benefits of marriage. Tax filing benefits, inheritance rights and all of the other benefits are terminated once the couple has officially ended their marriage. It is essential you know that filing for divorce varies in every country of the USA. Therefore, filing for divorce in Oregon does not necessarily have to be the same as in California. When deciding to file for divorce in California, one must keep in mind that property that was created together during the marriage is considered marital property. Namely, the overall value of the shared property will be divided evenly after the couple is divorced. Furthermore, in the state of California, divorcing spouses are held responsible for half of the spouse’s debt, so it’s always good to obtain a full credit report every 12 months in order to know what the family’s finances are, at the moment.

When it comes to a retirement plan, divorce court will divide the marital portion of it. As long as the couple is legally married, the part that was earned during the marriage and up until the date the marriage ended will be divided evenly.


Legal separation does not necessarily have to mean the couple will eventually divorce. For some couples, it represents a period in which they will resolve all the issues and stay married, once they have dealt with their issues and came to certain agreements. For others, it’s only a pit stop on the highway to the end. Both legal separation and divorce have their financial upsides and downsides, and it is essential that couple thinks them through well, before making the final decision and opting for one of those choices.