The advantage of a legal separation is that the parties are still married. This means that a spouse can remain under the insurance coverage of the insured spouse and that the parties maintain the legal relationship of marriage in the event of death or disability of a spouse. Often, couples who wish to take advantage of insurance coverage or other marital benefits, but who do not wish to cohabitate, choose to legally separate.
The grounds to file a complaint for a legal separation are the same as for a divorce. Under a legal separation, however, neither party can remarry until there has been a final divorce decree. Much like a divorce, the court can address matters such as child custody, visitation, support and property issues during legal separation upon motion by either party or by agreement of the parties. Once a separation agreement has been in force for two years, the court has the power to grant an absolute divorce to either party if there has been an order of legal separation for more than two years, the parties have not reconciled, and a petition is filed by either party for an absolute divorce.