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Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Illinois

Lafata Law LLC

Couples facing marital challenges have options beyond divorce. Both legal separation and divorce entail significant legal and personal considerations. The differences between legal separation and divorce is stark. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks is paramount.

Legal Separation:

  • Allows couples to live apart while remaining legally married.
  • Establishes formal agreements regarding financial support, property division, and child custody schedule.
  • Does not terminate the marital relationship, retaining certain marital benefits and obligations.

Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage):

  • Terminates the marital relationship.
  • Resolves all legal and financial ties between spouses.
  • Involves a more complex legal process and formal court proceedings.

Legal separation preserves the marital relationship, including for tax purposes and health insurance purposes. Further, without a will in place, inheritance would pass to the spouse even after separation. It also establishes support arrangements and financial obligations. Separation should provide stability during this transitional period. It gives the couple time to reflect. A separation provides a structured timeframe for couples to assess and consider reconciliation versus separation. Some couples may choose legal separation for religious or personal reasons, opting to live apart without terminating the marriage.

Benefits of Divorce

Divorce severs the legal entity and ends the marital relationship. It allows both parties to move forward independent of the other party. Divorce resolves all legal and financial ties between spouses, providing closure and a fresh start. While divorce involves a more formal process, the property division ensures a fair distribution of marital assets and debts. Some couples may choose divorce for the fresh start or personal reasons, opting to live new lives and remarry.

Legal separation may be beneficial for taxes or health purposes, separated couples are liable for tax and other financial implications the other spouse may incur. Aside from practical monetary concerns, separation leaves the future murky, making financial planning near impossible. While separation has practical benefits for some couples, it may be financially impossible for others. Contact a knowledgeable attorney to determine if separation is right for you.

Drawbacks of Divorce

Divorce proceedings can be complex and time-consuming. They will certainly involve negotiations over property. And most times, these negotiations involve maintenance and child custody. While a divorce may take months to complete, there is no time for reconciliation. This emotional impact challenges not only the couple, but their friends and family. While divorce does sever the ties between the couple that comes at a price. Divorce often entails legal fees and expenses associated with court proceedings and property division.

The involvement of a qualified family law attorney is crucial for several reasons:

  • Legal Guidance: An attorney can explain the legal implications of each option, helping individuals make informed decisions based on their unique circumstances.
  • Negotiation and Advocacy: Attorneys can negotiate on behalf of clients to achieve fair and favorable outcomes.
  • Complex Legal Procedures: Divorce and legal separation involve complex legal procedures and documentation, which attorneys are trained to navigate efficiently.
  • Protection of Rights: Legal representation ensures that each spouse’s rights and interests are protected throughout the process, minimizing the risk of unfair or unfavorable outcomes.

Legal separation and divorce offer distinct options for couples facing marital difficulties in Illinois. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and the decision between the two should be based on individual circumstances and goals. Consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney is essential to understand the legal implications, navigate the process effectively, and protect your rights and interests during this challenging time. Contact our attorneys at 630-481-6633 to schedule a free consultation to determine whether a legal separation or divorce is right for you.

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Proudly serving the following Illinois Counties: DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Cook and Will. Conveniently located near the DuPage County Courthouse. If you would like to visit us at our office, we are open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by appointment.

Wheaton Office
2100 Manchester Rd #C-1720

Wheaton, IL 60187

Phone: 630-481-6633

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