Advantages and Disadvantages of a Divorce over a Separation Agreement
When a couple decides to end their relationship with one another and live apart, they can choose to obtain a formal divorce—whereby their marriage is dissolved under the law—or a separation agreement—whereby their assets, property, and money are divided and custody issues are resolved if children are involved, but the couple remains married. This decision depends on the particular facts and circumstances of the couples’ living situation, age, finances, future plans and desires, etc.
Separation Agreement Over Divorce
Separation Agreements offer many advantages over divorce. The primary reason is money. Divorces are more expensive and time consuming compared to separation agreements (in states that permit separation agreements). Therefore, in situations where the couple wants to live apart and be entitled to their share of assets, money, and property but without having to go through the divorce process, a separation agreement is the preferred option.
Some couples hope that the time apart will enable one another to rationalize their differences so that they can come together as a married couple once more. Many separations lead to reconciliation between the spouses. It is relatively easy to go back to the couples’ old lives since they are still married. In these cases, a legal separation agreement would be preferable to a divorce since a divorce is permanent.
There are also health and medical benefits to continue being married under the law even though the couple will not live together. For instance, since martial benefits do not stop operating after a legal separation, spouses can retain one another’s medical benefits that a divorce would otherwise terminate. In addition to health and medical benefits, remaining married allows the spouses to keep Social Security and pension benefits in a way that divorce does not permit.
Another important reason why many couples do not divorce is religion. Divorce is not contemplated under traditional principles of certain religions. A separation agreement prevents couples from violating their core religious and personal beliefs while still allowing the couple the opportunity to live apart and receive asset, property, and money divisions or other custody arrangements.
Divorce Over Legal Separation
There are also instances where divorce is preferable. The main reason is that the couple hopes or plans to remarry one day. Couples that got married young are especially likely to opt for divorce since both will typically plan on remarrying again and starting their own or new families without having to worry about being bound to their prior spouse in any way—aside from those reflected in the divorce decree.
A divorce also prevents additional obligations from arising in the future aside from those outlined in the divorce decree. For instance, a divorce severs all future financial obligations that one spouse may end up obligating to the other. The most prominent examples here are health insurance plans and medical insurance benefits. With a divorce, the employed spouse’s insurance plans no longer cover the other spouse’s medical and health claims.
Lastly, divorce gives the couple the emotional freedom of being independent.