Divorce vs. Legal Separation in Illinois: What Is the Difference?

Posted on in Legal Separation

IL divorce lawyerPreparing to end your marriage is a serious decision that requires careful planning and analysis. Some couples who are unsure whether the relationship is completely over consider a temporary legal separation, rather than ending the relationship with a divorce. Before you make up your mind, it is essential to understand how legal separation and divorce differ in Illinois, as well as the potential benefits and drawbacks of both.


The most important difference between divorce and legal separation is that divorce is final, while legal separation is not. Once a couple is divorced, each partner is free to get married again. For couples who are certain that their relationship has dissolved beyond the possibility of recovery, divorce is likely the best option.

During their divorce, couples must divide financial assets and debts, and resolve important issues like child support and parenting time. This is also true of legal separation, but the divorce process also provides the option of freezing assets due to a partner’s dissipative behavior or other financial risks.

Depending on the complexity and hostility of the relationship and financial situation of each couple, divorce can be relatively quick - done within 45 days - or long and protracted, sometimes taking up to two years to complete. The expense of divorce can vary according to its length and complexity.

Legal Separation

When one or both spouses are unsure whether they want to permanently end their relationship, legal separation is an option. Legal separation may also be suitable for partners whose religion forbids divorce, or for partners who wish to maintain some of the financial benefits of being married, such as tax breaks or insurance benefits.

Just like with divorce, spouses pursuing a legal separation must formally address asset and debt division, spousal support, and children’s issues. Once decided and approved by the court, the handling of these issues is legally binding. Parents must abide by a court-approved parenting plan and pay child support, if relevant. Couples may get legally separated, even if they are living in the same home, as long as they are living separate and apart - not sleeping in the same bed, sharing sexual intimacy, or presenting publicly as a couple.

For spouses who want to give each other space without going through the formal process of a legal separation, a trial separation may be the best option. Spouses can arrange the terms of a trial separation by themselves, but these are not legally binding. This can give spouses some of the benefits of a legal separation without going through the legal process.

Speak with a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Knowing whether to pursue a divorce or legal separation can be a difficult choice, but an experienced Wheaton, IL legal separation attorney with Andrew Cores Family Law Group can help you determine which option is best for you. Our knowledgeable lawyers will walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of different options so you can make an informed decision, and then we will advocate passionately for you throughout whichever process you choose. Call us today at 630-871-1002 to schedule your confidential consultation today.





Recent Blog Posts



Wheaton Office

400 S. County Farm Road
Suite 200
Wheaton, IL 60187


Oswego Office

123 W. Washington Street
Suite 334
Oswego, IL 60543


Contact Us