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Should I Get a Separation Before a Divorce?

When you’re tired of living with your spouse, your first thought may be divorce. That’s what most people do when there are issues and they no longer want to be married. However, there is another option: separation.

There are two ways to separate in Ohio. You can get a legal separation, which is a process that is similar to a divorce, or you and your spouse can simply live apart and separate on your terms. A legal separation does not legally end a marriage in Ohio. Both parties are still considered married to each other and therefore cannot remarry. However, the court is allowed to issue orders regarding property division, alimony, and child custody. The legal steps are pretty much the same as for a divorce. When a court grants a legal separation, each party must follow the court’s orders. 

Some states actually require that you separate for a period of time before divorcing. Ohio does not require separation for no-fault divorces. You can decide you want a divorce and file for one the same day.

But while separation is not required for a divorce, some time apart may be good for both spouses. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. A separation can make you understand that you truly love your spouse and want to work things out. 

Is a separation right for you or should you just skip to divorce? Here are some things to consider as well as possible benefits.


If you are interested in a separation, here are some things to consider:

  • Legal requirements. Each state has different requirements for getting separations or divorces. Ohio does not have such requirements. If a couple is married, they can get a separation in Ohio.
  • Emotional considerations. Divorce is often seen as a knee-jerk reaction. It also has a sense of finality to it. Once a divorce goes through the process, it ends the marriage for good. You cannot reverse it. You can remarry your spouse, but that’s about it. If you are unsure if you really want your marriage to end, then you can separate for a while and see if you have a change of heart. You may even want to seek counseling or therapy and work on the marriage.
  • Financial implications. A separation can have significant financial implications because one household is becoming two. You can separate on your own and come up with some financial agreement on your own. Or you could get a legal separation and have a court decide property division, alimony, and child support.
  • Practical considerations. A separation can help with logistics, such as giving a spouse time to find a new place to live or to make other necessary arrangements before the divorce is finalized.

Benefits of Separation

Separation has several benefits that divorce does not provide. They include the following:

  • Keeping marital benefits. Marriage comes with various benefits. If you are separated, you are not officially divorced, which means you can keep the benefits you enjoyed during marriage. Maybe you want to stay married for religious reasons. Or maybe there’s the stigma of divorce in your community. There are also marital benefits such as tax deductions. You can still claim that you are married on your tax returns. You can also get your share of retirement plans and Social Security benefits as long as you stay married. You can also stay on your spouse’s health insurance and life insurance policies. This can save you a lot of money, as medical insurance can be expensive if bought outside of employment. 
  • Chance of reconciliation. When a couple is having marital troubles, they may want to get help, but maybe divorce isn’t what they want. Some couples want an opportunity to reflect on their relationship. A legal separation allows for the couple to separate and spend time apart. Plus, a separation agreement creates obligations similar to a divorce decree. It splits property and allows for child custody and visitation rights. Couples may consider marriage counseling and see if divorce is really the right option.
  • Sorting out divorce details. A divorce can put a couple under pressure. They may think they need to hurry up and make decisions, which can cause them to make poor choices. By agreeing to a separation first, couples have more time to talk about the elements of divorce and make thoughtful decisions about property division, alimony, and child custody. Once a legal separation is in place, you can decide when to divorce when you’re ready. You will already have the terms in place, so you can go through the divorce process quickly. 
  • Making it easier to help children with the transition. Divorces can be emotional and if there are children involved, they can face a lot of stress. Divorces impact a child’s life in many ways. They will have to go back and forth to two homes. They may have to go to a new school and lose relationships with friends. Some children act out toward their parents and suffer from poor performance at school. They may engage in substance abuse. Children may also feel guilt, confusion, anger, depression, anxiety, fear of abandonment, and issues with future relationships. A separation gives children time to adjust to the divorce. It eases them into the new transition and allows for extra time so that children can finish the school year before the parents initiate divorce. 

Contact Us Today

While Ohio does not require you to live apart for a period of time in order to get a no-fault divorce, you may want to consider one before divorce. A separation can give you time to think about your marriage and determine if you really want a divorce. 

If you do decide to end your marriage, the Delaware, Ohio divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law Office can assist you with the process. We can resolve your family law matters with ease. Schedule a consultation today. Call our office at (614) 228-3664 or fill out the online form.

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