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What Are the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

 Posted on August 12, 2020 in Divorce

Bolingbrook divorce attorney legal separation

When a couple is having problems with their marriage, sometimes the decision to divorce is clear-cut. However, many couples are not ready to take the irreversible action of ending the marriage, and instead, wish to spend time apart while they contemplate their next step. For these couples, or for those spouses who wish to avoid divorce because of cultural beliefs or health insurance benefits, a legal separation may be a good option. If you do choose to pursue it, you should understand exactly what legal separation entails and how it differs from a complete dissolution of the marriage according to Illinois law.

What Happens in an Illinois Legal Separation?

For you and your spouse to be considered legally separated, you must be living in separate locations, and one of you must file a Petition for Legal Separation with your county’s Circuit Court. If your separation is approved, you should consider the following legal implications:

  1. You and your spouse will need to establish a parenting plan and child support agreement for any children you share. While you are separated, you will need to establish a schedule of time that your children will spend at each parent’s residence, and the non-custodial parent will likely need to make monthly child support payments.

  2. The court may determine that spousal support payments are necessary during your legal separation if there is a significant difference in income and earning potential between you and your spouse.

  3. You and your spouse may elect to divide your property. Division of property is not required during a legal separation, but you and your spouse may decide that it is important, and it may expedite the process if you eventually decide to divorce.

  4. You may still be eligible for coverage under your spouse’s health insurance plan as long as you are legally married, which can be important if you require ongoing healthcare. You and your spouse can also continue to file taxes jointly during your legal separation.

  5. Neither you nor your spouse may remarry. Unless and until your current marriage is dissolved in a divorce, you cannot legally marry someone else during your separation.

A legal separation may continue indefinitely as long as both spouses agree to the arrangement. You may choose to end your legal separation if you are able to reconcile, or you or your spouse may choose to file for divorce at any time.

Contact a Will County Divorce Attorney Today

If you are unsure whether a legal separation is a right choice for you and your spouse, the attorneys at the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C. can give you the advice you need to make this important decision. We can help you file your petition correctly and negotiate any necessary legal arrangements between you and your spouse during your separation, and if you ultimately decide to pursue a divorce, we can offer you strong legal representation to protect your rights throughout the proceedings. Contact an experienced Bolingbrook divorce lawyer at 630-355-7776 for a free consultation.


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