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Legal Separation Vs. Divorce

Posted on in Family Law

Naperville family law attorneyWhen a married couple reaches a point where they do not know if they wish to continue being married, they have several options. One of these options is a legal separation instead of a divorce. There are several reasons why a couple may choose to be separated. A legal separation is a court order that protects each spouse’s rights and responsibilities when they are living apart. The major difference between legal separation and divorce is that separated individuals are still married, versus a divorce where the marriage is ended. Legal separations are not as common as divorce, but there are certain circumstances where a couple’s best option may be a legal separation.

Separation Maintenance and Child Support

Most people associate spousal maintenance, or alimony, with divorce. However, when a couple legally separates, it is possible to obtain maintenance during the separation. Separate maintenance is comparable to alimony or spousal support, but it's not called alimony because the couple is still legally married. Many of the factors used to determine if separate maintenance is necessary are the same as the factors which are used when determining maintenance after a divorce. The amount and duration of the payments will depend on the length of the marriage, spouses' incomes, earning abilities, ages, and physical and mental wellbeing. The court can also determine how child custody will be shared, allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time, and order one parent to pay child support.

Separation Is Not Required for Divorce

There are a few misunderstandings surrounding legal separation. In the state of Illinois, couples are not required to separate before they divorce. If you and your spouse are considering ending your marriage, legal separation may be a good choice depending on your unique circumstances, but it is not a prerequisite for divorce. Married couples who are not completely sure if they truly want to divorce may choose legal separation. Many couples use separation as a way of being physically and financially independent while they work on their marriage or attend therapy. Some couples who are legally separated go on to get divorced, and other couples are able to work out their differences and stay married. Still others remain legally separated for the rest of their lives.

Divorce Attorneys in DuPage County

If you have further questions about legal separation, divorce, maintenance payments, child custody, or other family law matters, an experienced DuPage County family law attorney can help. The Pesce Law Group, P.C. is committed to helping clients create a bright future for themselves and their family by offering high quality legal assistance and guidance during family law matters. Call for a free consultation at 630-352-2240 today.


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