Legal Separation vs. Divorce

A legal separation (referred to as a Decree of Legal Separation by the courts) is a binding agreement, approved by the court, in which a married couple formalizes the division of their household. It makes provisions for almost all of the same aspects of a divorce – debts, assets, child custody and residential schedules, financial support, and so on – without actually dissolving the marriage.

There are any number of reasons why couples decide to legally separate, but most couples who choose this path do so because they practice a religion that forbids or disapproves of divorce.

If the couple reconciles, the decree can be vacated; if the couple decides to divorce, either party can ask the court to convert the Decree of Separation to a Decree of Dissolution of marriage. If the couple doesn’t want to get back together but also doesn’t want to get divorced, the legal separation will remain in place, and either party can ask the court to make changes to the decree as circumstances require.

If you are considering separation, or if you need a legal alternative to a divorce, we’re here to help. Please call us at (206) 578-6963 or email us at

Tags: legal custody, physical custody, dissolution, religion, decree of legal sseperation, decree of divorce, legal seperation

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