The Difference Between a Legal Separation and Dissolution

Legal separations can be used in several different situations for Indiana spouses. Generally speaking, separations allow spouses maintain the marriage while living separately with rules regarding expenses, parenting time, custody or other domestic matters. A legal separation is a good option if the relationship needs a “cooling off” period, if there is opportunity for reconciliation, religious concerns, or even if one partner needs to leave the home for medical reasons and Medicaid benefits.

Legal separations are also used in the period of time leading up to an official dissolution. They provide an initial framework while the parties are working out the final terms of the divorce. Decrees of Dissolution remain in effect for only one year, so if you see yourself heading for dissolution of the marriage, the legal separation action should be converted prior to the anniversary of the entry of the Decree of Dissolution by the Court.

In both a separation and dissolution, a decree is issued. The decree is the official document that outlines the parameters, or rules, that the parties will abide by. Because a separation maintains the marriage, it is a more flexible option and gives the parties flexibility in working out the terms of the decree, as well as the option to reconcile or move toward dissolution.

In dissolution, the action is final and permanent. Once the decree is issued, both parties must live by the terms and there is no opportunity to reconcile.

If you are considering a divorce, a legal separation is a good place to start.It allows you to be separated, while also laying out a framework for what each party is responsible for. In some cases, reconciliation happens after the separation. If not, you’ll already have a head start on the dissolution of the marriage and can move forward quickly.