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What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation?

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IL divorce lawyerMany married couples experience relationship issues at some point, and while many disagreements can be resolved, others may cause one or both spouses to consider ending their marriage. For some couples, divorce is the best solution, while others may be able to repair their relationship and stay married. However, some people fall somewhere in the middle, where they may be considering getting divorced but do not yet know whether ending their marriage is the right choice. In these cases, a couple may pursue a trial separation while they determine whether to get divorced, or they may make plans to live separately on a more permanent basis without legally ending their marriage. When doing so, it can be beneficial to pursue a legal separation.

What Is Legal Separation?

A temporary or permanent separation will often leave spouses uncertain about their rights, and arguments or disputes may arise over how various issues will be handled, especially if the couple has children. By pursuing a legal separation, a couple can put an agreement in place that will address these issues. In essence, a legal separation can cover most of the issues that would be addressed during a divorce, but the couple will continue to be legally married.

The process of getting a legal separation is similar to filing for divorce. One spouse will file a petition for legal separation, and the other will file a response. The couple will then identify all of the issues that they will need to address in their separation agreement, and these may include matters related to the division of marital property, child custody, child support, and/or spousal maintenance. They will work to negotiate a resolution to these issues, and if they cannot reach an agreement, they may ask the judge in their case to make the final decisions. While most of these matters will be addressed the same as they would during a divorce, a settlement regarding marital property cannot be validated by the court during a legal separation unless both parties agree on it.

Legal separation can make sure both spouses will have an understanding of their rights and requirements while they are living separately. However, by remaining legally married, they may be able to realize certain benefits, such as having both spouses and their children be covered in a health insurance plan provided by one spouse’s employer. Legal separation can also be a good solution for those who do not wish to get divorced for religious or cultural reasons. However, while a couple is still married, neither spouse will be able to marry someone else. Either spouse can choose to pursue a divorce at any point in the future, and they may be able to complete this process fairly simply and easily since many of the decisions in a separation agreement can be incorporated into a divorce decree.

Contact Our Plainfield Legal Separation Lawyers

If you have questions about the process of legal separation and whether this is the best choice for your situation, the Law Offices of Tedone & Morton, P.C. can assist you. We will advise you of your rights and options, and we will provide you with legal representation whether you are planning to get a legal separation or divorce. Contact our Will County family law attorneys at 815-666-1285 to schedule your free consultation.


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