Often, married couples will explore the option of a legal separation instead of a divorce or prior to a divorce, almost like a “trial period” to see what being apart will be like. However, it’s normal to wonder if separation inevitably leads to divorce. On the other hand, you wonder if you’ll come back from your separation into a stronger marriage. The answer is different for everyone, but here’s what research shows.
Why Do Couples Separate Before Getting a Divorce?
Many people choose to proceed with a legal separation before jumping straight into a divorce for numerous reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:
- The need to keep marital benefits, such as health insurance, intact for the time being
- Not being emotionally ready for divorce
- Not being financially ready for divorce
- Wanting to give children in the marriage time to adjust to the parents being separated before going through the process of formally dissolving the marriage
While these are common reasons people choose to become legally separated, your reasons may differ. Trust yourself and know that your situation is unique and different from anyone else’s.
Do Most Couples Who Separate Divorce Later On?
Unfortunately, research published by Ohio State University does indicate that the far majority of couples who do legally separate end up making it official with a divorce later on — either months or years after the fact. Approximately 79% of separated couples divorced; only 21% reconciled. It’s important to note the length of the separation though — no couples reconciled after three years of separation. The only reconciliations that occurred during the study were within the first three years of separating.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer to Protect Your Best Interests
While many people think they don’t need a divorce lawyer until the actual divorce, it’s wise to consult with an attorney. This is true even if it’s just legal separation on the table. In fact, many of the negotiations required for a legal separation are the same for divorce — particularly in regards to the division of some assets and child custody — and often if a divorce is pursued, a judge will use the same terms agreed upon in the separation.