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When should we consider legal separation?

The Hollywood couple Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman have been separated for nearly two years now. However, Perlman reports that she will never divorce DeVito. She told the New York Post and People that the couple still loves each other, remains close and agrees on essential things. Therefore, the couple states that they will not pursue a divorce.

When things just are not working in a marriage, couples have the option to file for legal separation or divorce. But many Virginians might wonder: when should they consider legal separation over divorce?

Like most family law issues, the answer to that question depends on a family's specific needs, circumstances and goals. However, here are some things for individuals to consider when making their decision.

Divorce v. legal separation

A divorce legally ends a marriage, while a separated couple is still married in the eyes of the law. Therefore, a separated couple can still share the benefits of marriage, such as shared health insurance, if they wish.

However, both divorce and legal separation still allow spouses to establish legal agreements that determine how they will:

  • Divide property and assets
  • Cover expenses, such as their mortgage
  • Divide time with their children
  • Evaluate needs of spousal or child support

So, couples can live separately and lead separate lives. But they remain married.

Why might someone choose legal separation?

There are several reasons that a couple might choose legal separation over divorce, including:

  • The couple wishes to maintain health or financial benefits from their marriage
  • The couple's religious affiliation impacts their relationship and idea of divorce
  • The couple does not feel emotionally ready to end their marriage
  • They wish to leave the option for reconciliation open

Virginia law actually requires couples to separate for a year before obtaining a no-fault divorce. However, after that, couples have the freedom to consider their options and choose whether they want to pursue a divorce or stay separated.

Regardless of how couples choose to move forward with the end of their relationship, the knowledgeable family law attorneys at Bowen Ten Cardani, PC, can guide families through every step with tailored assistance.

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