What Are the Advantages of Filing for Legal Separation?

A legal separation offers several financial benefits for some couples, according to Jeff Landers for Forbes. For other couples, there are social reasons for remaining married but legally separated.

When couples are married for at least 10 years, the partner with the lower annual income is entitled to 50 percent of the spouse's Social Security benefit. If there is a large difference in income between the two partners, Landers indicates it is beneficial to file for legal separation until the marriage reaches the 10-year mark, and then file for divorce. With active and retired military couples, legal separation allows the spouse to continue receiving military benefits. A legally separated military spouse often continues to receive full military medical benefits.

If one of the partners is medically fragile and receiving insurance coverage under the spouse's employment, legal separation sometimes allows the coverage to continue; divorce usually ends it. However, some employers and medical coverage carriers view legal separation and divorce the same, explains Landers. Before choosing legal separation over divorce, the couple should check on how the company views the two types. Some couples choose legal separation over divorce due to religious reasons as various religious institutions discourage divorce. Legal separation allows the two to live their lives separately without the cultural stigma of divorce.