Legal separation is defined as a court-ordered agreement between spouses that have chosen to live apart but stay legally married. Many couples separate when considering divorce or when they are trying to work out problems in their relationship. But, this is distinguishable from a formal legal separation. Legal separation is achieved via a formal and final Judgment that is approved by the court, and this Judgment will outline certain rights and responsibilities for the parties much like a divorce.
Legal Separation Benefits
One benefit of a legal separation is the tax benefit. Legally separated spouses can deduct alimony payments if they are not living together in the same household. You must have a legal court document that certifies the legal separation between you and your spouse. Alimony payments generally cannot be deducted if a couple is filing jointly on their tax return. In Illinois, obtaining a decree of legal separation from the Court may allow you to file as ?single? or ?head of household? so long as the decree was filed prior to December 31 of that tax year. If you would still benefit more from filing jointly than from claiming single but having the maintenance write-off, then a legal separation would not be a tax benefit.
Another advantage to remaining legally married and being separated is the insurance benefit. Employee insurance plans will only cover married couples. When a divorce is final, the other spouse loses that insurance. With a legal separation, the parties are still considered married, and thus the spouse needing insurance will not lose coverage.
A legal separation does not end the marriage even though the obligations and rights have been legally defined. The marriage still legally exists.?? Separation allows for the couple to return to their life together if they choose to do so. Unlike a divorce, if a couple that is legally separated wishes to reconcile, they won?t have to get married again. All they would need to do is file a request with the court to continue with their marriage. If the couple were to decide to go ahead and get a divorce, the legal separation would greatly simplify the process as well, as typically the couple has already divided their assets and debts at the time of the separation.
Legal Separation and Religion
In some religions, divorce is forbidden or unrecognized. Some religions will go so far as to excommunicate anyone seeking a divorce, especially those who choose to remarry down the road. This can put couples in a very difficult situation when sorting out their options. A legally separated couple can?t remarry, but it will allow them to live apart and separate their assets and debts. According to Census Bureau stats, about 14% of couples who get a legal separation eventually get back together. For couples that are opposed to divorce because of their religion, a legal separation can provide an independent life, religious acceptance, and a chance to reunite at a later time.
Whether the situation calls for a legal separation or a divorce, a lawyer should definitely be involved. At Sherer Law Offices, our experienced divorce attorneys are here to help you clarify your options and avoid any uncertainty along the way.