Differences Between Separation and Divorce

While the phrases are often used interchangeably, separation from your spouse is not the same as divorce. While separation usually involves living apart from your spouse, you remain legally married until you obtain a divorce decree. Although a separation does not end your marriage, it can have an impact on your and your spouse’s financial obligations and other important matters.

It is essential to be aware of the differences between a legal separation and a divorce, especially if you and your spouse are planning to separate without pursuing a divorce. Our team at Moskowitz Law Group can help you better understand your options when it comes to separation agreements and divorce in New Jersey.

Important Distinctions Between Separation and Divorce

Divorce and separation can both have major impacts on your day-to-day life, as well as your future. The most obvious difference is that separation allows you to retain your legal marital status. Other distinctions include:

Healthcare and Other Benefits

Separation permits you to keep your health insurance and other benefits provided by your spouse’s employer. These benefits are often lost in a divorce. Social Security benefits may also be affected by divorce.


Married couples are still considered next of kin and can make medical and financial choices for one another. This is usually not the case with divorced ex-spouses.


During a divorce, assets and debts are separated between the parties through the equitable distribution process. However, when spouses are separated and not divorced, they may continue to be accountable for the debts of the other. Likewise, they may be entitled to each other’s assets.

Inheritance Rights

A separation preserves each spouse’s inheritance rights in the event that one party passes away. One exception would be one spouse writing their will to disinherit the other spouse. A divorce eliminates inheritance rights completely.


Separation makes reconciliation simpler. All you have to do is get back together and terminate any legal agreements you had during your separation. If you desire to reconcile after a divorce, you will need to remarry in addition to terminating any legal agreements and/or vacating any judgments and orders that resolved your divorce.

Discuss Separation and Divorce with a Legal Professional

Whether you are separated from your spouse, seeking separation, or pursuing a divorce, it is important to understand how this will affect all aspects of your life. At Moskowitz Law Group, our knowledgeable separation and divorce attorneys understand that this can be a difficult time, and we are here to help.

A dedicated member of our team can answer your questions about your separation or divorce and help guide you through your next steps. Set up a free consultation at our office today to get started.

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