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How can a legal separation help married couples?

Many married couples who fall upon a difficult time start to question their marriage. If they decide that they don't want to be with this person anymore, sometimes it is best to fully think through that potential life change before actually acting upon it. This is where legal separation can come in and help someone that is considering divorcing his or her spouse.

When you are legally separated, you are still married to your spouse. However, the legal separation can entitle spouses to certain elements of a divorce. For example, separation maintenance (effectively spousal support) can be involved in a legal separation. Child custody and visitation provisions can be made. Assets can even be divvied up in the property division process.

The crucial aspect of legal separation is that it allows someone to envision and experience what a divorce would be like without having them commit to the divorce. You and your spouse are still married -- but you are interacting in a limited way, and are likely living separately.

One thing to note here is that sometimes people are "separated" even though they don't go through the legal separation process. They may live apart while still married and without actually filing paperwork to have a formally and legally recognized separation.

Ultimately, a legal separation is a tremendous way for people to have a trial run for divorce. It can actually improve the relationship that the couple has because if they don't like what they experience during the separation, it can encourage them to try to work out some issues they have with their spouse. If the separation confirms what they felt though, then a transition to a divorce is fairly simple.

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