The decision to file for divorce is a difficult one. An alternative to divorce is legal separation, which sometimes provides an easier transition into the divorce process or is an appropriate marital status in and of itself. Parties sometimes file for legal separation for the following reasons:
1. The desire to separate financial matters, while not necessarily wanting to totally sever the marital relationship.
2. The continuation of health insurance. Some health insurance plans, but not all, allow parties that are legally separated, but not divorced, to continue to maintain “family” health insurance coverage. It is imperative that the potentially uninsured spouse contact the health insurance carrier to determine whether or not a party that is legally separated can nevertheless be a “spouse” for health insurance coverage purposes.
3. Religious reasons are sometimes given for filing a legal separation. For example, the Catholic religion does not recognize divorce, while the impact of a judgment of legal separation is not given the same religious effect.
4. In Wisconsin you may file for a legal separation after living in the county where you reside for 30 days. The six month requirement necessary for filing a divorce in Wisconsin does not apply to legal separation cases.
5. The hope of reconciliation is sometimes given as the reason for legal separation. While a legal separation certainly drives home the differences in the marriage, it offers some hope that the marriage can be saved and that the parties have not totally relinquished their marital relationship.