The first thing you need to understand is that a legal separation does not end your marriage. When a court grants a legal separation, it is usually because a couple is not yet ready to divorce or it may be because some administrative requirement has not been met. For example, if one or both spouses has not established residency in Illinois, a legal separation can be an effective temporary solution.
In a legal separation, a couple can go ahead and address many of the same issues that a divorce would resolve. With the help of a family law court and a divorce attorney, couples can have a child support order put into place so that the children have the funds they need to thrive. A legal separation also allows you and your spouse to create a parenting plan, custody arrangements and balanced visitation. It is even possible to address spousal support (alimony) without getting a traditional divorce.
The biggest difference between divorce and legal separation is the division of property. Couples cannot divide their property while legally separated as this is a process that may only occur during a divorce. However, if you have a lawyer to work with you, together you think ahead about property division while you are separated to help you prepare if you do move forward with a divorce.
A legal separation can solve many of the problems a couple may experience. Further, it gives you and your spouse time in which to decide if you want to try to save your marriage instead of calling it quits for good in the eyes of the law.