Is a Separation or Divorce Best For Me?

Woman holding a wedding ring between her fingers

Are you considering getting a separation or divorce but unsure whether it’s the best decision for you and your partner? You’re not alone in feeling this way. It can be hard to make sense of the conflicting emotions that come with making such an important life choice, especially when children are involved.

Before taking action, you should explore all available options, including separation. The team at Puryear, Newman & Morton, PLLC breaks down the pros and cons of separation and divorce to help you find what may work best for your unique situation.

Differences Between Divorce and Separation

Divorce and separation are both legal actions taken by a married couple, though the two processes have distinct differences. Divorce is a procedure that legally ends a marriage, while separation is the physical and emotional distance between a married couple during which they remain legally married.

In many states, the couple must first obtain a “separation agreement” or live separately for a certain period to be eligible for a divorce. However, Tennessee does not require couples to separate before filing for divorce. In this state, either party can file for divorce at any point after marriage without having to live separately or meet any other criteria.

Pros and Cons of Separating or Divorcing

With separation and divorce, each arrangement has pros and cons.

Separation - Pros

  • It provides a way to cool off and reflect on the relationship before making any drastic decisions.
  • It allows each partner time and space to think through their emotions and communicate in a calmer, more reasonable manner.
  • It can allow couples to work on their issues without legal proceedings, which can be lengthy and expensive.
  • Sometimes, it prevents couples from involving themselves in a messy divorce process with lengthy court proceedings and high legal fees.
  • The couple can reconcile after some time apart if they are willing to work on their issues together.

Divorce - Pros

  • The relationship’s legal finality may provide a sense of closure and security.
  • Spouses can remarry if desired.
  • Tax implications may benefit both parties financially, depending on the circumstances.
  • It is easier to resolve property and debt division in a divorce rather than a separation agreement, which is less legally binding.

Separation - Cons

  • It does not provide any legal protection from debts or assets accumulated during the marriage or separation period since the couple is not legally divorced yet.
  • The temporary nature of separation may mean neither party is taking the situation seriously enough or putting enough effort toward reconciliation.
  • One partner may use the separation time as an excuse to build up resentment or prolong any issues rather than working through them together as intended by the separation process.
  • There can also be an emotional rollercoaster during this period because there are no clear rules or expectations set out as there would be with a divorce agreement. This can make it difficult for either party to move forward emotionally while they wait for potential reconciliation or resolution of their issues while separated but not legally divorced.

Divorce - Cons

  • It can be costly as legal fees and court costs can add up quickly if the case goes to trial.
  • Divorce can be emotionally taxing for all involved parties, especially if children are involved or other contentious factors are at play (such as infidelity).
  • There is typically a loss of benefits (i.e., health insurance) that were connected to the spouse’s marital status.
  • Long-term negative effects on children and extended family members can occur in some instances if the divorce proceedings are especially contentious or messy.

Let Puryear, Newman & Morton, PLLC Be There For You

No two couples are alike, so there is no one answer to whether it is better to separate or divorce. Ultimately, you need to do what is best for your particular situation. If you have questions about separating or divorcing, our experienced family law attorneys can help — contact Puryear, Newman & Morton, PLLC to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys.

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