A Legal Separation and a Divorce are almost identical in the fact that the procedures are the same, child custody and support can be awarded, and assets and debts will be divided in both; however, at the end of the process of Legal Separation, you remain married to your spouse. A Legal Separation is rarely necessary or beneficial for most people because if you obtain a legal separation and decide later that you want to get divorced, after all, you have to go through the time and expense of the Court process twice. Some notable exceptions might be if a party has religious beliefs that do not allow for divorce, or if a party has a chronic illness that makes obtaining their own health Insurance cost-prohibitive or impossible. If parties know they will never want to get remarried again, a Legal Separation may suffice for them.
Both Legal Separation and Divorce can be handled in a contested or uncontested matter, but both parties have to agree for a Legal Separation to be ordered. If one spouse wants a legal separation and one spouse wants a Divorce, the Court will grant a divorce. If you and your spouse are having trouble and could benefit from some time apart, you can separate without obtaining a Legal Separation.