The answer to this is personal, and it depends where you are both at. Are you 100% sure that you are headed for divorce? Or is there a chance of separating for a few months, a year, even 3 – and then reconciling? Do you feel that you would not be able to date if you are still married? Is one of you on the other’s health insurance?
There are three differences between signing a full separation agreement and living apart, according to its terms, and filing for a divorce.
1. Taxes: Filing taxes together as a married couple is usually cheaper than filing as married/separate. While you are still married you can file joint taxes.
2. Health Insurance: Another reason to stay legally married is for health insurance. A married couple, even if legally separated, can stay on each other’s plans, but once you are divorced you can’t. When considering whether or not to divorce it is important to look at the health coverage plans you and your partner have, and if there are any feasible alternatives if you separate. Children’s health insurance is not affected, and they can stay on either parent’s plan after a divorce.
3. Emotional: The ending of a marriage is usually stressful and emotional. Many couples crave closure, and once divorced, feel they are (or will be) better equipped to move on and begin to heal. Other couples do not find as much significance in this legal status. Some people feel that they cannot date while they are still legally married, while I’ve had couples who are living with someone else or even expecting another child when their divorce comes through. Your situation is unique, and you can consider these points as you consider your options.