A legal separation does not end a marriage. However, it does allow spouses to make legally binding decisions about child custody, property division, and other issues typically decided on during a divorce. There are several reasons a married couple may choose to seek a legal separation rather than a divorce, including religious beliefs or personal preferences. In some cases, couples may also use legal separation as a way to test whether they want to end their marriage,
If your marriage is experiencing turmoil, make sure you understand the advantages and limitations of legal separation before making a decision.
Basics of Legal Separation in Illinois
When a couple gets divorced, they are no longer married in the eyes of the law. This means that they can remarry if they choose to do so. A legal separation does not end your marriage, but it does allow you to create a separation agreement – a document similar to a divorce decree. Your separation agreement may contain determinations regarding:
The allocation of parental responsibilities
The parenting time schedule
Property division and distribution of debts
If spouses disagree about child custody or spousal maintenance, the court may step in and make a decision. However, the court will not divide marital property in a legal separation unless the couples agree on how to divide property.
Reasons You May Want to Be Legally Separated
Legal separation is not as common as divorce, but there are special circumstances in which legal separation may be the better option for a married couple. For example:
You want to stay legally married to keep health insurance or social security benefits – Some people need to stay married for financial reasons or to receive benefits through their spouse. However, they do not want to live together. Legal separation allows them to define the terms of child custody, spousal maintenance, and other issues while keeping the marriage intact.
You or your spouse are not ready to divorce – If you are unsure whether you want to end your marriage, legal separation allows you to live apart and make decisions about divorce at a later date. If you do decide to divorce, you will have already made decisions about the major divorce issues. If you decide to get back together, you can file a motion to vacate the separation. This effectively undoes the separation and allows you to resume life as a typical married couple.
You have religious or personal objections to divorce – Some couples may choose legal separation over divorce because their religion does not recognize divorce. By getting a legal separation, these couples can live apart and have many of the same legal protections offered through divorce without actually getting a divorce.
Contact our Wheaton Legal Separation Lawyers
At Goostree Law Group, our DuPage County family law attorneys understand how difficult it is to make decisions about your marriage. We can help you understand your legal options and decide whether legal separation or divorce is right for you. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 630-364-4046.