I often get calls from clients seeking a legal separation. In Iowa, a legal separation is handled the same way as a full divorce except that the property is not distributed. If the parties later decide to divorce, you would start anew with a divorce case. Also, during the legal separation, since the parties are still married, they are still responsible for the others debts under 597.14 of the Iowa Code. and Iowa Code 252A.3: Support of Family
However, some Iowan’s will still pursue a legal separation because they cannot remain together and cannot divorce due to their religion or for moral reasons. So the benefits of filing a legal separation are quite limited and the costs are about the same as a full divorce, after which many people would end up just paying the same full amount again once they are ready to divorce.