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Is separation sometimes more stressful than divorce?

In our Oct. 24 blog post, we discussed legal separation in New York, and how many couples prefer it as an alternative to divorce. However, staying separated rather than formally ending the marriage is not for everyone.

Obviously, someone who wishes to get married again cannot do so as long as his or her prior marriage is still legally active. Besides that, being separated can be more difficult than after the finality of a divorce, according to a new Gallup poll.

According to the survey, which included 131,159 American adults, a slim majority -- 51 percent -- of those who identified as being separated from their significant other said they felt stressed the day before taking the survey. By comparison, 44.1 percent of divorced subjects reported stress the day before, and just 38.6 percent of married subjects had a stressful previous day.

Why should separation be more stressful than life after divorce? The author of the poll has some theories.

For example, he believes that the uncertainty of separation may be a factor. Being legally separated puts your relationship with your ex in a kind of limbo. For many people, not knowing what the future holds in this way can be very stressful.

Having children involved can complicate any divorce, and it can have the same effect on a long-term marital separation. Witnessing their parents split up and live separately is difficult for children. Parents -- especially mothers, according to the Gallup pollster -- feel the guilt and pain of putting their children through that.

How to handle a marriage that is not working depends on what is best for each individual family. Those unsure what to do may wish to talk with a divorce attorney.

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