In some cases, spouses may decide it is appropriate to formally and legally separate, rather than obtain a divorce, such as for religious or moral reasons, or to maintain medical benefits under a spouse’s plan. The effect of a legal separation (also called “separate maintenance”) is to achieve all the same results as divorce (i.e., property division, spousal support, etc.), except legal separation/separate maintenance does not terminate the parties’ marital status.
Of note, parties can later decide – after successfully obtaining a Decree of Separate Maintenance – that they wish to proceed with a divorce.
You should discuss fully whether legal separation/separate maintenance is the appropriate alternative option to divorce.