Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oregon
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What is a legal separation? Why do people file for legal separation?
A "legal separation" is a court order setting out enforceable terms for a couple who remains married but agrees not to live together as husband and wife. The separation judgment can include orders about the custody and parenting time arrangements for children, child support and spousal support, and who gets which property and pays which debts. Legal separation is sometimes used when religious beliefs prohibit divorce or when you or your spouse have not yet lived in Oregon long enough to file for divorce. See Question 29 of the Family Law in Oregon booklet or the section on Divorce on this site.
A legal separation costs about the same as a divorce. During the first two years it can be changed to a divorce by either person. After two years, you can still get a divorce, but it will be a separate case.
What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?
The main difference is that you are still married after a legal separation, so you cannot marry someone else. Also, you still have the right to inherit property "automatically" from your spouse if you are legally separated. If you are divorced you lose that right.