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Key Differences Between Connecticut Legal Separation and Divorce

Like many issues facing you when you are considering a divorce, the differences between separation and divorce in Connecticut can be confusing.  This is made even more complicated by the fact that not all separation is legal separation.  This guide will help you understand the key differences and empower you to take the next step and make the right decision for you and your family.

Separation (or Living Apart) versus Legal Separation in Connecticut

First up, the basics.  Let’s talk about the difference between what people often call separation versus a legal separation.  It is not unusual for a couple to live separately for a while before filing for divorce. Most of them use this trial separation as a breather to decide what they really want to do about the relationship. This is not the same as a legal separation.  Just like there is no “common law marriage” in Connecticut, there is no “common law separation.” No matter how long you and your spouse live separately, you are not legally separated unless you go through the formal court process.

How to Choose Between Living Apart and Legally Separating

Living apart can be a way to get some time and space to reflect, a sort of formal “trial run” before deciding to divorce.  One of the benefits legal separation (versus merely living apart) provides when there are children is that each parent has the clarity and security of a court-ordered parenting plan and child support while they are separated.

The Same Issues are Covered in a Separation and a Divorce

Both legal separations and divorces address division of marital debts and assets, custody and child support arrangements for minor children, and other key issues that require a lot of time and money to resolve. Just as with a divorce, the alternative approaches to litigationmediation and collaborative law — are available to you and your spouse for a separation. If the two of you cannot agree on something important, the default is litigation, just as with divorcing couples.

Differences Between Separation and Divorce

In Connecticut, a court’s decree of separation serves the same essential legal function as a divorce order.  The biggest difference between legal separation and divorce in Connecticut is that in the case of a separation, a couple remains married and cannot remarry without divorcing first.

Legal separation was more popular back when it was somewhat common for advantageous employer health insurance benefits to be offered to a spouse despite the separation.  That said, because legal separation does not end a marriage, other employer-based marriage benefits (like pension benefits) might remain available to you or your spouse when you are legally separated.

When choosing whether to separation or divorce is best for you, here are a few other items to consider:

  • Legal separation can be “undone,” making it a more flexible option.
  • Divorce is a “clearer” decision, leaving the spouses better able to move forward.
  • The couple’s adopted religion may prohibit divorce but not separation.
  • There may be a tax benefit to either separation or divorce based upon the specifics of the couple’s situation and goals.

Next Steps

To learn more about the differences between separation and divorce in Connecticut, please check out this video with our Founding Attorney Meghan Freed.  Or, if you are interested in learning more about the difference between legal annulment and divorce in Connecticut, we have a guide for that, too!

Whether separation or divorce is the approach that will work best for you depends on the ins and outs of your situation and your goals. At Freed Marcroft, we help you to understand the difference between separation and divorce, and so that you will be set up to choose the right process for you.

Our first step, the Goals & Planning Conference is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals for your life. Once we discover your goals for your life at the Goals and Planning Conference, we are able to take our all of our collective experience with divorce, law, the available ways to divorce, strategy, courts, judges, and other lawyers, and build a divorce, separation, or annulment customized for you.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us either here or by phone at 860-560-8160.

Written by Meghan Freed