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Act of living apart of two spouses, is termed as separation. A couple does not need to live at two different places to be separated. They can lead their independent lives while living under the same roof.

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You and your spouse, for various reasons, may decide to live separately – you can go for either informal separation or legal separation before divorce. Separation is different from divorce as it gives you time to think, reconsider and consequently in time to come reconcile and decide to live together once again.

Informal Separation/Trail Separation

Couples may, decide to live separately. As there is no formal separation agreement involved, the couple informally agrees to live separately. It is also called trial separation. Informal separation/trail separation also means agreeing informally upon other issues like cost of living/maintenance (alimony), sharing of assets like cars, bank accounts etc.

Informal separation involves less trouble and less emotional pain as compared to legal separation and it is relatively cheaper since the lawyers and court fees are not involved.

The main advantage of informal separation is that, the couple gets a chance to think over their foreseeable decision of divorce. They get a feel of how life would change. It allows them to see for themselves if they would be able to handle this change. They may opt for some counseling services as well. Finally they may decide to continue with their married life and forget the difference that had arisen in the course of their marriage or may decide otherwise.

Formal Separation/Legal Separation

Formal separation is also known as legal separation. Legal separation (formal separation) is the result of divorce court’s order. The court’s order legally binds the couple to live separately, as in some states, duration of living separately before formal divorce is mandatory.

Written agreements are a part of formal separation (legal separation). The divorce court enforces or legally binds payment of temporary alimony, for the period of separation, to the dependent spouse.

Along with payment of temporary alimony, legal separation agreement and the divorce court’s order also addresses the issues of child custody or child support. This divorce law in applicable in the cases where the couples applying for legal separation have children.

Though legal separation agreement or the court’s order for legal separation addresses issues that are common in divorce and the couple also faces the same emotional pain and pressure of living separate lives, but legal separation differs from divorce as remarriage is not possible in legal separation.

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