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Tips for Deciding Between a Legal Separation and a Divorce in Illinois

 Posted on January 23, 2020 in Family Law

Wheaton family law attorney legal separation

When a married couple is struggling to live in harmony under the same roof, one person usually moves out of the shared residence. The distance and time apart may allow the couple an opportunity to work through relationship problems and determine their next steps. For a couple who can no longer reside together, there are several options available, including divorce and legal separation. If you are struggling in your marriage and would like to discuss your next steps, a family law attorney can explain your rights and your legal options.

What Are the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

A divorce legally dissolves the marriage between two individuals, while a legal separation acknowledges that the couple is still married but lives apart from each other. Divorce is a permanent decree, but legal separations may be either temporary or permanent. A couple who is legally separated may eventually decide to file for divorce, but they also have the option to end the separation and reunite. It is important to note that during the legal separation, the spouses may not get married to anyone else.

During the process of divorce, a couple may make dozens of decisions, including how to divide their marital property and how to structure a parenting plan that addresses how they will handle matters related to their children. One spouse may also be awarded spousal maintenance (alimony), and child support may be ordered to ensure that children's ongoing needs will be met. Likewise, legal separations are legally binding agreements in which a couple addresses all terms of the separation, including the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time, spousal support, and how to divide marital assets.

By completing the process of legal separation, you can ensure that your rights will be protected and your needs will be met while living apart from your spouse. Addressing these matters when legally separating can help you complete the legal process much more smoothly if you eventually decide to divorce. Many of the decisions made in a separation agreement can be transferred to your divorce settlement.

Determining Whether Legal Separation or Divorce Is the Better Option

Some couples know immediately that a divorce is the best option for their specific circumstances, but other couples may not be ready to permanently end their marriage. In the state of Illinois, a couple may consider a legal separation if:

  • They are attending counseling to determine if the marriage can be saved.

  • They are attempting to resolve any differences.

  • They wish to live financially and physically independent of each other while determining their next steps.

  • They do not want to get divorced because of religious reasons.

  • They wish to maintain some of the benefits of remaining married, such as health insurance coverage, while living separately.

Each situation is unique, and in some scenarios, a separation may ultimately help resolve any issues between you and your spouse, allowing you to reconcile with each other. In other cases, legal separation may help you realize that you do not want to spend the rest of your life with your spouse, and you may choose to legally terminate your marriage.

Contact a Lombard, IL Family Law Attorney

Because the details of a legal separation can impact the terms of a divorce, it is important to work with a skilled family law attorney when creating a separation agreement. At A. Traub & Associates, we work hard to protect the best interests of our clients, whether they are seeking legal separations or divorces. As an experienced law firm dealing with all types of family law matters, we can guide you through the process of requesting a separation or a divorce, and we can help you reach an outcome that meets your unique needs. To request a confidential consultation, call our knowledgeable and compassionate DuPage County divorce lawyers today at 630-426-0196.


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