When a marriage breaks down, it can be hard to know what to do. Getting divorced is an irreversible action that will likely influence both spouses’ lives profoundly. Spouses contemplating divorce may be hesitant to file for divorce if they are not completely sure it is the right choice. The situation becomes more complicated if a spouse is involved in an unhappy marriage, but religion, culture, or personal beliefs prohibit divorce. Legal separation is an alternative to divorce you may want to explore if you are in a situation like this.
Legal Separation in Illinois
It is important to note that being legally separated involves much more than simply living in different homes. You and your spouse may decide to separate physically to provide some space while you decide what to do next. However, if you want to get legally separated, you will need to file a Petition for Legal Separation and address many of the same concerns that you would address during divorce. During the legal separation process, you will need to address:
Spousal maintenance – Will one spouse provide financial support to the other?
Child support – Will the spouse with the greater amount of parenting time receive child support?
Property division – How will you divide your assets? Who will remain in the marital home? How will you address joint debts?
Child custody – Will you share custody of the children? What will the parenting time schedule look like?
You and your spouse may be able to negotiate the terms of your separation or the court can step in and decide for you. Illinois courts can determine the terms of child custody, child support, and spousal support (alimony) in a legal separation. However, the court cannot divide marital property unless you and your spouse agree on how to divide property.
Advantages of Legal Separation
Legal separation may be an advantageous option for couples that are not yet ready for a divorce but want to address issues like property division and child custody. When you get legally separated, the marriage remains intact. This can be useful for people who still need access to their spouse’s social security benefits, health insurance, or other benefits. Legal separation may also allow spouses to separate their lives while they decide if divorce is the next step. If spouses do decide to get divorced, they will have already addressed most of the crucial issues. This can make the process of divorce much faster and easier. If the spouses decide to stay together, they can file a Motion to Vacate Order of Legal Separation and end the legal separation.
Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer
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