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What Is the Difference Between a Divorce and Legal Separation?

 Posted on September 06, 2023 in Family Law

Untitled---2023-09-06T093332.363.jpgAlmost every marriage goes through rocky periods that sometimes leave spouses questioning whether they want to stay in the marriage or not. Some couples decided to stay together and work to resolve the issues. Some couples decide the marriage cannot be repaired and decide to divorce. Then there are couples who are unsure if their marriage can be repaired or not. They know that, for now, they do not want to live with their spouse, but they also know they are not ready to legally dissolve the marriage and make that living situation permanent. For these couples, filing for a legal separation may be the best option. An Illinois divorce attorney can help you decide what choice may be the best for you.  


What Is a Legal Separation?

When a married couple decides not to live together, there are certain issues that need to be decided. These include:

  • How will parenting time and decisions be made?

  • Which spouse will stay in the family home?

  • How will the household bills be paid?

  • Will one spouse pay the other spouse “support?”

When a couple decides to file for divorce, these are the decisions that the couple will either agree on or the court will make these decisions for them. The final decisions are all included in the final divorce decree.

For couples who do not want to live together but are not ready to take the final step of divorce, the above issues still should be addressed. This ensures that both spouses are protected financially, as well as protection of their parental rights. This can be done through a legal separation agreement.

To obtain a legal separation, one spouse files a petition with the family court. It is recommended that both spouses have their own family law attorneys representing them and guiding them in the negotiations for all the issues that the couple needs to address. For the separation agreement to be legal, it must be approved by the court.

Although many of the issues addressed in the separation agreement are like those in a divorce, the couple is still legally married. While they may live separate lives, neither spouse is legally able to marry anyone else.


Permanent Separation

There are couples who do not want to live together anymore, however, they do not or are unable to file for divorce. These reasons can include:

  • The couple belongs to a religion that forbids divorce.

  • The couple does not want to lose certain benefits that married couples enjoy that single individuals do not, i.e., tax benefits and health insurance coverage.

A legal separation can provide each spouse with the parental protections and the financial protections that divorce provides, however, they can still take advantage of the benefits that married couples enjoy.


Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer for Legal Help

If you and your spouse are having issues in your marriage and you are unsure what legal direction you want to move in, call Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices at 630-932-9100 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a dedicated Lombard, IL divorce attorney.

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