Legal Separation Or Divorce? Which One Is Better For Children

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsFor couples who don’t want to live under the same roof anymore, the question of whether to get a divorce or not arises. An alternative to divorce is legal separation where the couples are still legally married but choose to live separately. In both cases, couples who have children often find it to be a confusing decision. Both options have their pros and cons and it is up to you to decide what you want to do.

But the question here really isn’t about the advantages and disadvantages of legal separation and divorce. It is more about your duty as a parent. Consider the following factors and then decide.

Providing for your children

The first question that you need to ask yourself is “am I independent enough to take care of my children?” This question should be asked in respect to both finances and emotions. Make sure you have enough finances to take care of the needs of your children. If you want to be truly responsible for providing for your children, you need to be emotionally strong as well. During divorce cases, custody can be awarded to the other parent if you’re not emotionally or financially stable.

Often, it’s difficult to say how children are going to react when their parents stay apart from each other. Teenagers have the right to choose whom they want to stay with but for younger children they are expected to stay with the parent who can provide for them. Divorce is a more permanent solution to separation and should be considered carefully before proceeding with it.

Being responsive to the needs of your children

Your children’s needs should be the top priority because under no circumstance can they become victims of your own personal fight. If you’re counting on a divorce and don’t want to re-consider your decision, then it’s best that you try staying separately first. Legal separation can help you decide if you really want a divorce or not. Also, it will help you understand your children’s psyche when they live separately from one parent.


Whether you get a legal separation or a divorce is completely your choice but a lot will depend on how your kids react to each of them. Divorces may affect them negatively and in such cases a legal separation is the preferred option. In other cases a divorce may be the best option.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation