Basically a legal separation does all the same things a divorce does including distribution of property and debt, child support and custody, and determination of any maintenance but at the end you are still marrried. There are various reasons why someone would want a legal separation instead of a divorce. Sometimes a person is not certain they want to completely end the marriage but they still want the other relief that a legal separation can offer. You do not have to file for legal separation before a divorce, if you have decided you want a divorce you can file directly for divorce. If you file for legal separation but decide you want a divorce before the legal separation is final then you must file a serve a new petition for divorce. If you already have a final legal separation decree you can convert it to a divorce order after six months have passed after entry of the legal separation decree.