Five Benefits to Legal Separation

Before moving forward with a divorce, some couples opt to pursue legal separation. Why? Because there are some benefits to legal separation that simply don’t apply in a dissolution.

Five Advantages to Legal Separation

There are many advantages to legal separation and most of them come down to money. This is largely because choosing legal separation over a full divorce makes a huge amount of financial sense to some couples.

1. Meet social security benefit requirements

If your marriage has lasted under 10 years, you won’t necessarily be eligible for Social Security spousal benefits. If you have, however, as long as you haven’t remarried by the age of 62, you’ll be entitled to receive them. For this reason, many couples decide to remain separated until they pass the 10-year milestone.

2. You’ll continue receiving health insurance

After divorcing, the majority of employee benefit schemes will no longer extend to the ex-spouse of the employee in question.

Although you’ll need to look into the small print, you may be able to avoid this with legal separation. Some employers, however will count legal separation as divorce and disallow it.

3. Still file jointly for continued tax benefits

Many couples opt for legal separation for tax reasons. By continuing to file jointly as a couple, you’ll be entitled to the same tax breaks.

In addition, since you’re still technically married, you may be able to keep your marital tax deductions. If interested in the potential tax benefits of a legal separation, it is best to pursue tax advice from a qualified tax professional.

4. You can pool your resources

With the economy in its current state, running two separate households is too costly for many couples. As a result, you may be able to use a legal separation to pool certain resources.

For example, if you own a house together, you may decide to remain in that house but simply split it into two separate living spaces.

Beware of spousal maintenance, however. The IRS state that two spouses cannot live in the same house if one is receiving spousal maintenance (called “alimony” in many states and on your 1040 income tax forms).

5. It can be reversed

It’s a fact of life – couples change their minds. While divorce is irreversible and can only be “undone” with a new marriage between the parties, separations can be taken back. If you’re not certain divorce is the answer, filing for separation first can be a safe option. Many can even reverse a separation without the need for professional legal assistance.

Do Your Research Prior to Filing

Even if you think it might be the right solution for you, it’s important to do your research on legal separation first. If in doubt, consult your local family lawyer.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Benefits to Legal Separation, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.