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Legal Separation vs. Divorce: What Is the Difference?

 Posted on December 08, 2023 in Divorce

Cook County divorce lawyerThe primary difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that a divorce will allow you to remarry should you choose to do so. Without a divorce to terminate the marriage, the ability to remarry is off the table for both parties. A legal separation also has no time limit, whereas once a divorce goes through, it is final. If you are facing the decision between a legal separation or divorce, an experienced Illinois attorney can help figure out your best option and represent you at trial if necessary.

Advantages of Legal Separation Over Divorce

A legal separation may be the better idea for couples who are unsure if divorce is the final answer. A trial separation is also a possible option but has no legal ramifications. Some couples are profoundly religious but cannot see their differences being reconciled. As such, a legal separation may be their only option. Other couples may find it possible to reconcile, so they do not want to make the break permanent.

A legal separation allows couples to avoid the permanence of a divorce and still reap the benefits and responsibilities that come with it. Couples can sign and submit a legal separation agreement to the court where terms over specific legal matters have already been negotiated, such as:

How To File For Legal Separation

In Illinois, filing for legal separation is almost identical to filing for divorce. The steps include:

  • Filing a Petition for Separation with the Circuit Court in the county you and your spouse last resided in or in the county of your spouse (if your spouse is in another state, you can file for legal separation in the county you live in)
  • Wait for the respondent (your spouse) to receive a copy of the petition. Allow them to file a response or appear in court on the appointed date in the summons
  • Attend the separation hearing and provide the court with your legal reasons for the separation. You can now negotiate legal matters, such as child support and maintenance, but you must accept the judge’s ruling

Contact a Cook County, IL Divorce Lawyer

To navigate the legal separation process effectively, you must have an experienced Chicago, IL family law attorney representing you. A skilled lawyer, like one from the The Law Office of George J. Skuros, can protect your rights and interests throughout the process. Contact the office at 312-884-1222 for a free consultation.

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