When you realize your marriage is no longer working, you may think divorce is your only option. However, there are times when it may be beneficial to get a legal separation instead. 

There are a few important differences between divorce and legal separation. FindLaw says that a legal separation does not end a marriage. Instead, you and your spouse live in different homes. This means that you typically still have to decide how you will divide your property. Additionally, if you have children, you and your spouse generally have to decide where the kids will live and who will pay child support. 

You may wonder why a legal separation is a good idea if it does not end the marriage. However, there are many reasons this arrangement may be beneficial. Sometimes you and your spouse may know that you need time apart but wonder if a divorce is the best option. In this situation, you and your spouse can live separately and try to work out your issues. If you decide that you want to stay married, then a legal separation makes this reconciliation simpler to accomplish. Additionally, you can usually keep your health care benefits with a legal separation. This means that if your job does not provide health care, you can continue to use your spouse’s benefits. Sometimes your religion may prohibit divorce. If you get a legal separation, you can live apart from your spouse but keep your marital status. 

It is important to remember that a legal separation does not change your liability for debts. If your spouse has debts he or she has not paid, creditors may still be able to come to you. Additionally, you and your spouse typically retain your existing property rights. Additionally, people cannot begin a new relationship when they are legally separated.