While a divorce legally dissolves the marriage, a legal separation is a court order that mandates the rights and duties of the couple while they are still married but living apart. However, a legal separation may offer the same protection as a divorce and in some cases works out better.
What are the advantages of legal separation?
Since couples who separate are still legally married, they still enjoy the many benefits of marriage. Separated spouses are still entitled to participate in family health insurance plans, receive spousal retirement benefits, and take advantage of income tax benefits by filing a joint return.
What does it mean when you are legally separated?
Separation generally means living apart from each other. It can be unilaterally initiated by either spouse, or mutually decided. To prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, in order to obtain a divorce, you must have been separated for at least 12 months.