When a marriage is no longer working, one or both spouses may feel that divorce is the only solution. However, before making such a drastic decision, couples may benefit from exploring other options that could possibly save the marriage or provide clarity on whether divorce is truly the best course of action. In some cases, legal separation may be a solution that is preferable to divorce.
What Exactly Is Legal Separation?
In Illinois, legal separation allows couples to live apart while still being legally married, giving a couple the chance to take a step back from their marriage and decide whether they want to continue with the relationship.
During legal separation, couples will address many of the same issues that they would during a divorce. They may divide their assets and debts, address child custody issues, determine whether spousal support (also known as alimony) will be appropriate, and make decisions about any other concerns related to their family and their finances.
The Advantages of Legal Separation
Legal separation offers several benefits when compared with a divorce:
- Time and space: Both partners can spend time away from each other, reflect on their feelings, and consider whether they can work through their issues without ending their marriage.
- Maintain certain benefits: By staying legally married, spouses will still be able to access benefits such as health insurance provided by one party’s employer.
- Possible reconciliation: Some couples find that taking time apart during legal separation helps them address the issues that have caused their relationship to break down. This can lead to reconciliation rather than moving forward with the final decision of divorce.
The Disadvantages of Legal Separation
While legal separation has its benefits, it is also important to consider the potential downsides:
- Incomplete financial separation: Legal separation involves dividing assets and debts, and spouses can take steps to establish financial independence. However, since a couple will still be legally married, financial decisions made by one spouse during a separation could potentially impact the other spouse’s financial future.
- No marital freedom: Unlike divorce, where both parties are free to pursue new relationships, legal separation maintains the marital bond. While spouses may form relationships with new partners, they will not be able to get married again until they complete the divorce process.
Factors to Consider Before Choosing Legal Separation
If you are looking at legal separation instead of getting a divorce, here are some key issues to consider:
- Evaluate your reasons for choosing legal separation: It is crucial to understand why you may want to remain married and avoid a divorce. You may want to consider counseling or other options for resolving your marital issues, which can help you determine whether your relationship can be saved or whether divorce may be the best option for you.
- Analyze your financial situation: By taking stock of your income, assets, and other financial issues, you can assess whether you would be better off under a legal separation agreement or a divorce. Discussing these issues with a divorce attorney can help provide clarity on your options and the best solutions for your situation.
Contact Our Arlington Heights Legal Separation Lawyer
If you are exploring the option of legal separation, or if you have questions about whether divorce may be the better choice for you, the experienced Mt. Prospect family law attorney at [[title]] can discuss your case and help you make the right decisions. Contact us at [[phone]] for a free consultation.