Recently a new client approached me about the differences between a divorce and legal separation. Often times legal separation can be an effective mechanism for people who are experiencing some very unique circumstances.
Despite what one might glean from the internet or television, in New Mexico legal separation and divorce are very similar. The basic underlying difference is that in cases of legal separation, the parties are unable to remarry. In other words, legal separation divides property, assets, debts, etc. and it also carries with it custody and child support ramifications. However it does not end the romantic relationship legally as a divorce does.
Courts see legal separation as basically a quasi-divorce without the name change. Legal separation is a divorce without the termination of the actual marital relationship.
Sometimes people choose to separate legally for religious purposes, insurance, tax, and other purposes. If you are considering a legal separation in lieu of a divorce, please consult an attorney before filing anything.