20+ Differences Between Divorce and Separation (explained)

No matter how hard people try and love, sometimes some marriages remain toxic to some people. And to get out of it when you are unhappy seems the right choice. Various legal ways can help couples sort out their marriage as best as possible.

For example, divorce is a legal way to terminate a marriage that works by announcing its end. In contrast, Separation is a process that allows couples to live separately despite staying married. 

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Key Differences 

Divorce 

  1. It is a way of ending a marriage that works by announcing an end to a legally valid marriage. 
  2. The spouses do not remain married after getting a Divorce. 
  3. After a Divorce is attained, the spouses are known as divorcees. 
  4. The court always attains it. 
  5. It stays a lifelong decision regarding the marital status of the spouses, which can not be changed later. 

Separation 

  1. It is a way of being in marriage yet not being in a marriage. When spouses decide to get separated, they start to live individually. 
  2. The spouses remain married after getting separated. 
  3. After Separation is attained, the spouses are still known as husband and wife. 
  4. It can be attained by the court or just decided mutually by spouses. 
  5. It is not a lifelong decision. It can be reversed if the spouses think they have made a mistake. 

Comparison Between Divorce And Separation

ParameterDivorceSeparation 
Meaning It is a legal way of living separately by terminating a marriage. The decision to Divorce should be taken by keeping in mind that if couples wish to undo a Divorce, they can only do so by marrying again. It is a way of living separately despite being married. The decision of Separation is usually taken before a Divorce to see what it is like to live separately before jumping to the decision of Divorce. 
TypesIt can broadly be classified into Fault and No-fault Divorces. It can broadly be classified into Trial, Permanent and Legal Separation. 
Marriage Attainment of Divorce results at the end of a marriage. It is considered inactive after Divorce. Separation does not affect the status of a marriage. Therefore, it is considered active despite Separation. 
Marital StatusSince it results at the end of the marriage, the marital status of spouses changes from husband and wife to divorcees. However, it should be noted that spouses can not be considered single or unmarried after a divorce. Since it does not result at the end of marriage and marriage is considered active, the marital status of the spouses remains as husband and wife.
Legality The court always takes up the decision to grant a Divorce. Spouses can only apply for a Divorce. The decision of Separation can be taken up by mutual agreement between the spouses, or it can be taken up by the court as well. 
Reversible Divorce is considered as a permanent decision meaning it can not be reversed even if spouses want to. The only way a Divorce can be reversed is by marrying again. Separation is considered a temporary decision because it can be reversed as and when spouses want to. It is always advised to seek Separation before seeking Divorce as it gives you an idea of living separately and can be reversed, unlike in the case of Divorce. 
When should you opt for it?It should be opted by people who see no hope of getting back together and those who have tried Separation, but it did not help anyone a bit. It should be opted for by people who want to give their marriage a second chance. Also, people who want to see what it is like to live alone before jumping to Divorce should choose Separation. Very importantly, it should be chosen by people who do not consider getting a Divorce due to their religious opinions. 
Emergency ContactTypically, spouses are each other’s emergency contact, but it changes after attaining a divorce. After a Divorce, they can no longer be each other’s emergency contact. Separation allows the spouses to stay as each other’s emergency contact. This is because spouses are still married despite being Separated. 
PropertyIt typically results in the division of joint property between spouses. However, it should be remembered that the division of that property occurs between both spouses owned together. It does not result in any property division as the spouses are considered to be still married. 
Benefits Leaving a marriage that does more harm than good is considered no less beneficial than obtaining a Divorce. The primary benefit of Separation is that this decision is reversible. Along with that, there are other benefits of Separation as well. For example, despite being separated, either of the partners is eligible for the other partner’s government, healthcare, and insurance benefits. Also, there is a tax reduction if a couple stays married. 

Major Differences Between Divorce And Separation 

What exactly is a Divorce? 

A Divorce is a very common way of ending a marriage. It is a legal decision that can not be attained unless granted by the court. It can be attained if either or both spouses do not wish to stay in the marriage.

It can also be attained if either of the spouses thinks they have been cheated on or abandoned by the other spouse. Once granted, this decision can not be changed and remains lifelong. 

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Features of Divorce 

  1. It is a legal way of terminating a marriage. 
  2. To attain a Divorce, marriage should have lasted a minimum number of years while there is no limit to maximum numbers. 
  3. After a Divorce is attained, spouses are known as divorcees. 
  4. It can be broadly categorized into two categories: Fault and Non-Fault. 
  5. Fault Divorce refers to a situation where either of the spouses demands a Divorce because of the other spouse’s fault. 
  6. No-Fault Divorce is a situation where no spouses are at fault but do not want a divorce. 
  7. The court always attains the decision of a Divorce. It can not be attained by mutual agreement of the spouses. 
  8. After a divorce, the property is divided between the spouses. 

What exactly is Separation? 

Separation is a decision taken up by the spouses to live separately instead of living together. Spouses can decide on Separation with the help of mutual understanding, and the court can also take it up.

When the court makes the decision, it is known as Legal Separation. Separation is usually taken by couples who want to give their marriage a second chance and see how things work out if they are separated. 

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Features of Separation 

  1. It simply refers to living separately instead of ending a marriage. 
  2. The decision of Separation can be taken up by the spouses themselves or settled by the court. 
  3. It is largely chosen by spouses who are unsure about ending their marriage and want to give themselves as husband and wife a second chance. It is also chosen by people who think Divorce is wrong according to their religious beliefs. 
  4. After the spouses are separated, they are still known as husband and wife, meaning their marriage is still valid. 
  5. It can broadly be categorized into three main parts: trial, legal, and permanent. 
  6. Trial Separation refers to living separately but only as a trial. After it ends, the couple can choose to live together, file for a divorce, or choose a permanent separation. 
  7. Permanent Separation refers to living separately permanently. It usually happens after a couple has gone for Trial Separation. 
  8. Legal Separation is a way of living separately as per the order given to couples by the court. This has strict rules and regulations that must be followed by both spouses strictly. 

The contrast between Divorce And Separation 

Origin of the word

  • Divorce – The word Divorce originated from the Latin word “disodium,” which means “separation.” 
  • Separation – The word Separation originated from the Latin word “separate,” which means “to pull apart.” 

Meaning

  • Divorce– is a legal way of terminating a marriage by announcing an end to a legally valid marriage. It is seen as a permanent decision as it can not be reversed. If the spouses want to undo a Divorce, they have no option but to marry again. Thus, a divorce decision should not be taken in a hurry and, if possible, should be done after a Trial Separation. 
  • Separation – It refers to a way of living separately despite being married. It is seen more as a temporary decision, and it is largely taken by couples who are considering a Divorce. This gives the couples some space and shows them what it is like to live separately. 

Types 

  • Divorce can broadly be classified into two main types: Fault and Non-Fault. The spouses usually take Fault in Divorce if they do not wish to stay in a marriage and think the other spouse is at fault. Here, a spouse is considered at fault if they cheat on or abandons another spouse. Non-Fault Divorce, as the name suggests, is opting for Divorce if either or both spouses do not wish to stay in marriage anymore. 
  • Separation can broadly be classified into three main categories: Legal, Trial, and Permanent. Legal Separation refers to living separately as per the orders of the court. Trial Separation refers to living separately but only for trial purposes. After its end, the couple can file a divorce, live together, or choose to live separately permanently. Finally, permanent Separation refers to living separately permanently. This type of Separation usually takes place after Trial Separation. 

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Types of Divorces and Separation 

Divorces 

  1. Fault Divorce – This type usually occurs when either of the spouses is at fault. If either of the spouses left the other partner, cheated on the other partner, or went to prison, then he/she can choose the Fault Divorce. 
  2. No-Fault Divorce – This type of Divorce occurs when neither spouse is at fault. Instead, they want a Divorce just because they want to be out of their marriage. 

Separation 

  1. Legal Separation – As the name suggests, this type of Separation usually takes place when ordered by the court. This can happen when spouses appeal for it in court or the court orders it under special circumstances. 
  2. Trial Separation – This type of Separation occurs when spouses want to experience Separation for trial purposes only. This can happen before choosing Divorce and Permanent Separation. 
  3. Permanent Separation occurs when spouses are sure of their decision to stay separated. This usually happens after spouses have tried Trial Separation. 

Marriage 

  • Divorce – The sole purpose of a Divorce is to end an already existing marriage. Thus, a marriage is considered to have ended after attaining Divorce. 
  • Separation – In Separation, spouses are just living separately despite being married. However, a marriage is considered active even if the spouses live individually. 

Marital Status

  • Divorce – Since marriage is ended after the attainment of Divorce, the marital status of the spouses changes from husband and wife to divorcees. However, it should be noted that after a Divorce is granted, the spouses can not be considered single or unmarried in any circumstances. 
  • Separation – Since marriage is considered active even after the spouses have separated, the marital status of the spouses remains as husband and wife. 

Legality 

  • Divorce – The court always decides to grant a Divorce to a married couple. It is a legal decision. Deciding if a couple is divorced or not can be taken by a mutual agreement between the spouses. The spouses can only appeal to get a Divorce. Only a country’s legal system decides if a couple gets a divorce. 
  • Separation – The decision of having Separation can be taken up by the court and by the mutual agreement between the spouses. If they think they should have some space or get an idea of how it is to live alone, they can decide to live separately without involving the court. However, if anyone is seeking Divorce or wants to receive Legal Separation, they can do so. 

Reversible 

  • Divorce – The decision to Divorce is very important as it is permanent. After getting a Divorce, spouses can not choose to live together again. They can not undo a Divorce. If the couple wishes to live together, they only have to marry again. 
  • Separation – The one good thing about It is that it can be reversed as per the couple’s decision. It is not a permanent decision like a Divorce; if the couple decides to live together, they can happily do so. 

When should you opt for it?

  • Divorce is largely opted by people who have decided not to stay together as husband and wife. Usually, people opt for Divorce when they have tried Separation, and despite that, they still do not see any chance of getting back together. 
  • Separation – It is largely chosen by people who are unsure about getting a Divorce and want to give their marriage a chance. They also want to see what it is like to live separately and see if that brings joy and love when they meet.
    It also helps couples to be sure of a Divorce if Separation does not help them at all. Lastly, some people do not consider getting a Divorce due to religious beliefs. So instead of getting a Divorce, they prefer living separately. 

Emergency Contact 

  • Divorce – In a marriage, the husband and wife are typically each other’s emergency contact, meaning their respective partners will be called first if they are in danger. But that completely changes when a married couple is divorced. After a divorce, the husband and wife can no longer be each other’s emergency contact. 
  • Separation – Separation has some benefits in the area of an emergency contact. Unlike Divorce, husband and wife can stay as each other’s emergency contact even though they are separated. This is because the marriage is still active, and they are still husband and wife. 

Property

  • Divorce – After a Divorce is attained, there is a property division of the joint property that the spouses own. Property division occurs because the marriage is considered ended and has to be settled as both parties contribute some money to the property.  
  • Separation – Unlike Divorce, any property division does not occur when the spouses are separated. This is because marriage is still active even though the spouses have separated. 

Benefits

  • Divorce – There are usually no such benefits as in the case of Separation. However, ending a marriage affecting one’s mental health is no less than a benefit. 
  • Separation – In comparison with Divorce, there are many benefits of Separation. The major benefit of Separation is that this decision is reversible. Along with that, there are other benefits of Separation as well.
    For example, despite being separated, either of the partners is eligible for the other partner for their government, healthcare, and insurance benefits. Also, there is a tax reduction if a couple stays married. All of these benefits can not be undergone if a couple decides to get a Divorce. 

CONCLUSION

The terms Divorce and Separation sound like synonyms and are used interchangeably. Both concepts have numerous similarities, but despite all the similarities, both are very different.

The major difference between Divorce and Separation is that the former means living separately after having ended a marriage, while the latter means living separately without ending a marriage. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

Q1. Why do people choose Separation before opting for Divorce? 

People choose Separation before Divorce because this gives the spouses an idea of what it is like to live alone so that if they want to reconcile, they can as and when they want, as Divorce can not be reversed, but Separation can. 

Q2. What kind of property is divided among the spouses after a Divorce? 

The property the spouses owned together, i.e., both contributed some amount of money to a property, is divided among the spouses after a Divorce. 

Q3. What are the different types of Divorces and Separations? 

Fault Divorce and No-Fault Divorce are the two primary types of Divorce. On the other hand, Trial Separation, Permanent Separations, and Legal Separation are the three primary types of Separation.

Q4. What is the difference between Fault and No-Fault Divorce? 

Fault Divorce mainly occurs when either of the spouses is at fault. Fault means if either of the partners cheated or abandoned the other partner. On the other hand, No-Fault Divorce occurs when neither of the partners is at fault, but they want to be out of a marriage. 

Q5. Is it always the court that decides on Divorce and Separation? 

The court always takes up the decision of Divorce. Spouses can appeal or apply for a Divorce but can not decide on a Divorce without mutual agreement. In contrast, the decision of Separation can be taken up with a mutual agreement between the spouses and the court.

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