Every marriage features its own special configuration of strengths and weaknesses, and not all couples who face serious struggles may actually need a divorce. However, some couples who may not need to divorce may still benefit from some legal guidance to help them re-assess the basis of their relationship and the way the marriage functions. Other couples may find that divorce is the best fit for them, but they simply need time to prepare carefully without remaining in each other's space creating conflict.
For some couples like these, a legal separation is often a useful legal tool. Legal separation is not the same as a divorce, but operates in much the same way. Like a divorce, legal separation features court orders that dictate how a couple should divide up some or all of their property, how a couple should address any child custody, visitation and support issues and may even provide spousal support during the separation.
Unlike a divorce, legal separation does not end a marriage. Couples who enter into a legal separation may functionally live like a divorced couple, but remain married unless one of them passes away or files for an actual divorce. Should a couple live legally separated for a season and choose to continue with marriage, they are free to do so without remarrying.
If you suspect that a legal separation may offer what your marriage needs, no matter where the relationship is headed, you should reach out to a family law attorney. Careful, empathetic guidance from an experienced attorney allows you focus on your marriage's true needs while protecting your rights and the rights of the ones you love.
Source: FindLaw, "Legal Separation vs. Divorce," accessed Dec. 29, 2017