What Is The Difference Between Seeking A Legal Separation And A Divorce?

Author: Don Pioletti Posted on: . Filed in: Divorce.


Most people never get married assuming that one day one or both of them will want to end the marriage; however, divorce is something that many couples face. Because divorce is a reality for many couples in Illinois, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides several grounds for divorce. The grounds for divorce include adultery, physical cruelty, mental cruelty, drug or alcohol abuse, abandonment, and irreconcilable differences. A party seeking a divorce in Illinois must prove at least one of the statutory grounds in order to have the court end the marriage. On the other hand, a party seeking a legal separation does not need to prove any grounds.

What is a Legal Separation?

If spouses do not wish to live together, they may seek an order from the court granting a legal separation. A legal separation is a formal court proceeding, much like a divorce, whereby one spouse petitions the court for a decree of separation. However, a Petition for Legal Separation cannot be filed by a spouse who has voluntarily moved out of the marital home.

When the judge grants a legal separation, the separation order typically resolves other matters including the division of marital property and debts as well as child custody and child support. With a legal separation, the spouses live separate and apart but they are still legally married. A divorce ends the marriage so that neither party retains any spousal rights.

There are several reasons why spouses may seek a legal separation. One of the most common reasons is for financial purposes. Once the legal separation is granted, it ends the financial connection between the parties. For example, the future debts incurred by either spouse cannot attach to the property granted to the other spouse. Furthermore, neither spouse can claim an interest in future income or future assets acquired by the other spouse after the legal separation.

Legal separation is not commonly used because Illinois divorce laws allow for a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. While the parties must live separate and apart for at least six months and waive the two-year waiting period, a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences can be almost as quick as obtaining a legal separation and it ends the marriage permanently. For couples desiring a legal separation, many issues must be considered before proceeding with this course of action. A legal separation is not as clear-cut as many people believe. A divorce attorney can provide guidance on whether a legal separation is in your best interest.

Contact Our Office for a Consultation with an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney

The divorce lawyers of Pioletti & Pioletti represent individuals who need help with family court matters. We assist clients throughout McLean, Woodford, Tazewell, and Peoria counties by providing compassionate, competent legal services. Contact our office at 309-938-4838 to schedule your free consultation.

When you need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney in central Illinois, call Pioletti & Pioletti. We are dedicated to providing our clients exceptional service and support throughout the divorce process.

Don Pioletti

Don Pioletti

Don B. Pioletti, Jr. was born on August 2, 1946 in Washington, Illinois. He graduated from Eureka High School and received a Bachelor’s Degree from Eureka College in 1970. He served in the Army during the Vietnam War and then graduated from George Mason University Law School in 1976. He served as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General and as an Assistant State’s Attorney. From 1990 until July of 2014 he served as the Woodford County Chief Public Defense Attorney.
Don Pioletti