Many people may muddle the words "separation" and "divorce" in their heads, but actually these are two distinct legal processes that relate to family law. A divorce is the end of a marriage -- it leads to the legal dissolution of the marriage. But a separation agreement is different. The marriage stays intact and the separated couple, though living under divorce-like conditions, remains a couple.
Separation can have many of the factors involved that you would relate to divorce. For example, there can be separation maintenance that sees one of the spouses pay the other spouse during the separation. There can also be child support, child custody and property division elements to your separation.
Separation is actually a very useful legal tool for couples that are unsure about going the divorce route. A separation allows you and your spouse to get some time apart and get the feel of what the conditions of divorce would feel like, even though you aren't divorced. You can determine if living by yourself and without the aid of your spouse is what you want. You can also observe how it affects your kids.
If you decide that divorce is right for you, then you can advance your trial separation along the path to divorce. This is a big decision, and it is one you shouldn't take lightly. Getting a separation agreement or choosing divorce necessitates good legal advice and the counsel of an experienced family law attorney.
Source: FindLaw, "Legal Separation vs. Divorce," Accessed Oct. 28, 2016