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The Differences Between Legal Separation, Dissolution, & Divorce

The Differences Between Legal Separation, Dissolution, & Divorce

The Differences Between Legal Separation, Dissolution, & Divorce

The end of a marriage is never easy – regardless of the circumstances that led to the broken relationship. It can be emotionally taxing to decide which legal route to pursue, especially if you are unfamiliar with your options.

Most people don’t know the differences between legal separations, dissolutions, and divorces – and honestly, why would you? Unless you have been through the process before, you probably haven’t had a reason to research these legal avenues. This article will provide you with the basic principles of each of these processes.

Continue reading to better understand the differences between legal separation, dissolution, and divorce.

Legal Separation

Legal separation allows a couple to remain married while choosing to live separately. The Ohio Bar states that a legal separation, “helps both spouses reach a legally binding agreement on splitting property, parenting rights and other issues that would be resolved in a divorce agreement – while remaining married”. Essentially, the same topics that would be handled in a dissolution or a divorce are outlined in a legal separation agreement – with the main difference being that the couple continues to be lawfully married.

You may be asking yourself why a couple would go through the legal effort to separate their assets, form a parenting plan, etc. but still desire to remain married. In most cases, couples are in favor of this option if they are still defining the status of their relationship but want to move forward with protecting their assets. Additional reasons include a need to continue combined health care or a desire to preserve social security and tax benefits only allotted to married couples. Religious beliefs can also be a factor a couple considers when evaluating their options.


A dissolution differs from a legal separation because it results in the legal end of a marriage. Again, the Ohio Bar asserts, “[a] dissolution of marriage is an action where the parties mutually agree to terminate their marriage”. It is important to note that in order to be granted a dissolution a couple must fully agree on all terms – this includes the splitting of financial assets, custody agreements, property rights, debt separation, etc.

A dissolution can be a desirable means to legally end a marriage because it does not force couples to state the reasoning for ending the relationship. Couples who prioritize privacy may lean more towards this process to dissolve their marriage. Additionally, a dissolution tends to be less expensive and is commonly resolved faster than typical divorce proceedings.


Most people are familiar with the general principles surrounding a divorce. Legal divorces tend to be the most expensive as well as the longest process to end a marriage. This is primarily because of the amount of paperwork and legal proceedings required.

In order to be granted a divorce, fault must be established and proven in court. This can feel like a very exposing process in an already emotional circumstance. In addition to establishing fault, a couple must also work through the terms of their divorce. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement then a court can intervene.

We are here to support you

At Flanagan, Lieberman, & Rambo, we know that ending a marriage is not a decision to take lightly. We are here to help you navigate your legal options, with care and compassion, to ensure that you are comfortable with the process that fits your needs best.

Our team of respected attorneys have walked clients just like you through the processes of legal separation, dissolution, and divorce. Let us be the helping hand you need to make certain that your best interests are represented well.

Contact us today to learn more.



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