For a big decision like divorce, it would be really nice to have a trial period first so that you could experience and fully understand the ramifications of your decision. You may think that such a trial doesn’t exist — but actually, it does. Legal separation is a tremendous tool for many married couples who are experiencing marital problems but aren’t quite ready to file for divorce.

During separation, the couple remains married. However, they will probably live apart for some time and there can even be stipulations involved in the separation that you would see in a divorce. Child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and even property division are matters that can be discussed for a legal separation.

You and your spouse can use the time apart during the separation to think about your life and decide if this current situation, the separated one, is right for you. If it doesn’t feel right, then the two of you can discuss that and possibly end the separation, keeping your marriage intact. If it does feel right, you can move to change the trial separation into a permanent separation and, ultimately, you could turn that into a divorce that legally ends your marriage.

No matter what you decide, these are major steps you are taking in your life and the agreements that correspond with those decisions are critical. They have to be compliant and correct, as well as compatible with your life. TO ensure this, you should talk with a family law attorney.

Source: FindLaw, ” Legal Separation vs. Divorce,” Accessed June 8, 2016