When you and your spouse decided that your marriage cannot continue as it is, many people choose to divorce. 

However, legal separation is another option which has its own benefits and drawbacks. 

Definitions 

The key difference between the two is how intertwined your financial and legal decisions are after you move to different areas. A divorce is the complete and final ending of the marriage. However, in a legal separations you are still technically married. 

Monetary and legal differences 

If you separate but do not divorce, your ability to share health care benefits stays the same. If your spouse has a job with benefits but you do not, it is possible you can keep your coverage from before the separation. 

In this situation, your property rights are still in place. This means if your spouse passes on, you have a right to the shared property you both previously lived in. Debts are also shared even after a separation. In a divorce, you are responsible for paying your own separate portion of debt. 

No-fault and trial separation  

Many divorces are no-fault situations that do not require a reason on file for why you are divorcing. Once you live in different areas for a long time, you may find that you want to officially divorce. In fact, some states even have laws regarding the length of time you can live separately before officially filing. 

Sometimes it is prudent to have a trial separation. In this situation, you live apart for a length of time before committing to a permanent separation. This helps you determine if you want to proceed with the legal paperwork needed to finalize your divorce.