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I thought I understood what a Verb and a Verb + lassen mean (somehow influenced by this question), but I don't. My previous idea was that one writes Verb + lassen when the action is not performed by the subject, but by third agents:

Karl lässt sich die Haare schneiden.

But I heard the expression

Ich würde mich trennen lassen.

in the context of getting divorced. The subject decides that he/she wants the divorce. Why does one use lassen?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'd rather suggest "Ich würde mich (von ihm/ihr) trennen" and "Ich würde mich (von ihm/ihr) scheiden lassen", and indeed for the reason you suspect: A Trennung is typically executed by the persons themselves, a Scheidung is an act done by a judge (even though this happens per request of at least one of the partners - but that would also apply to the barber's)

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ach so? dann es war nicht trennen, sondern scheiden. – c.p. Jul 31 '13 at 19:38

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