Legal separations and divorces are not the same. While it's often you hear about people ending their marriages through a divorce, a legal separation can be a better option depending on the circumstances. For example, if getting a divorce will hurt you financially, a legal separation may be a better choice.
When you choose to pursue a legal separation, you and your spouse will still be married. The difference between your marriage now and after the separation is that anything you acquire or do is separate from your spouse and not considered a marital asset following the separation. You can live completely separate lives but still benefit from some of the perks of a marriage.
A legal separation is sometimes the only thing you need. Some couples do not want to live together or have much to do with one another but also don't plan to get remarried. In that case, a legal separation is a quick way to reduce legal liabilities. Others do not want a divorce due to religious reasons, so this is a good option to use.
Others use a legal separation during a trial separation. During the legal separation, you can work out your child custody arrangements, settlement and other financial issues. If you later decide to go through a divorce, it's quick and easy because everything has already been decided.
If you're not sure which of these is the right legal option, your attorney can help. There are benefits to both legal separations and divorces, depending on your situation and your personal goals with your separation.
Source: FindLaw, "Legal Separation vs. Divorce," accessed June 16, 2017