Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Divorce vs. Legal Separation

Excerpt taken from Divorce in Illinois - The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect by Steven N. Peskind, Esq.

People with marital problems sometimes consider a legal separation rather than a divorce because a separation seems less permanent, less drastic. Some look at a legal separation as "divorce-lite." If you and your spouse want to just separate or take a "time out" from each other, work out an informal agreement regarding payment of bills and child-related matters, and then just separate without going to court. A legal separation is a formal court proceeding with the costs and expenses that go along with any court case.

If you do file a petition for legal separation, the judge will enter orders for maintenance, support, and custody. If you both agree, you can also divide your assets. 

Once the court enters a decree of legal separation, you are still married. You can file joint taxes as a married couple and may be eligible for health insurance and retirement benefits as any other spouse. If your spouse dies, you are considered a surviving spouse for the purposes of inheritance and probate laws. Any assets or debts that either of you acquire after the decree of legal separation remain your separate property or debt, in the event you later decide to divorce. 

Today people rarely use legal separations. The procedure is temporary and provides no real closure of the relationship. Since you are legally married, even if legally separated, you will need to get a divorce if you want to remarry or later decide to end the marriage with finality.

Most commonly today, people file legal separations to protect assets from creditors if one of the spouses needs long-term care. Sometimes people use this procedure if they anticipate a long-term separation and want to benefits from tax deductions for the payment of maintenance. A legal separation status of their marriage, but isn't ready to "pull the trigger" for the divorce. Separate and get a good counselor. Don't incur the unnecessary cost of the legal separation. If the marriage can't be salvaged through counseling, proceed with a divorce at that point.

1 comment:

  1. A very educative post about divorce vs legal separation that indeed revamps my perception on the same.

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