Tag Archives: Legal separation

Illinois family lawyerSometimes, couples opt for a long-term separation rather than a divorce. If you are unsure of which option is right for you, it is important to understand the true definition of a long-term separation as well as the pros and cons it offers.

What Is a Long-Term Separation?

A divorce puts an end to a marriage while a long-term separation does not. If you decide to separate rather than divorce your spouse for a long period of time, you will live separately but continue to be legally married.

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Illinois divorce attorneyWhen a marriage is not working out, a couple will likely file for divorce. In some cases, however, a couple will file for legal separation instead of a divorce. If you are legally separated from your spouse, you are still considered legally married even though you are not living with them. In the period of a legal separation, child support and custody arrangements can be determined, just as they would be for a divorce.

Why Choose Legal Separation

The purpose of legal separation is to provide you with time away from your spouse before you decide whether or not you should file for divorce and permanently end your marriage. Legal separation may make sense for you if your marriage is suffering because of health problems, financial struggles, issues caring for your children, an illness, a family death, or challenges with communication.

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legal-separationFor those Illinois citizens who are not quite ready for divorce but need time to contemplate the future status of their marriage, legal separation may be an alternative. Under Section 402, Part IV of Illinois Public Law, 750 ILC, legal separation is defined as any person who is currently living apart from his or her spouse but maintains the right to reasonable support and maintenance while doing so.

Although this may sound similar to an adult timeout from marriage, those opting for this recourse must first seek a court sanctioned legal separation by meeting specified legal criteria.

Obviously, the couple must live physically apart from each other as the petitioner must prove he or she is not primarily responsible for the separation. It is also noted that one spouse must document Illinois residency to achieve judicial oversight.

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Legal Separation IMAGEIf you are considering marital dissolution but do not want to divorce for one reason or another, legal separation may be your best option. A legal separation is a permanent change to your marital status akin to divorce, and is recognized in the eyes of the law. A non-legal separation is one in which one spouse moves out but no legal action is taken. While it is not imperative to seek the counsel of a family law attorney in the event of a non-legal separation, living apart may affect your legal rights and so it is advisable to seek the counsel of an attorney before moving out.

Legal separation, according to The Chicago Bar Association, is “a formal arrangement set forth in an order or judgment approved by a judge. The order or judgment will set forth rules under which a husband and wife may legally live apart and will detail the responsibilities and obligations of each.” The marriage, however, does not technically end, and jointly held property will not be divided in the event of a legal separation. Because the marriage is not technically dissolved, neither spouse may remarry until the legal separation is made final through divorce.

Because legal separation and divorce can take equally as long and both provide for arrangements such as alimony, child custody, and child support, it may seem a moot point to legally separate instead of divorce. Many couples opt for legal separation instead of divorce because in some cases they are able to continue to share medical insurance. If either spouse is terminally ill, this may be a crucial aspect. Other couples may decide a legal separation is their best option because of moral or religious beliefs that decry divorce.

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Ending a marriage is not something that is easy to do. A couple who no longer wants to live together but want to remain married may opt instead to pursue a legal separation.

The legal separation does not put an official end to the marriage as a divorce does. The terms of a separation are handled in the same manner as a divorce. Issues of child support, custody, visitation, as well as spousal support will be discussed. A separation agreement can also protect certain assets. There will be an order that is put into place by the court that must be adhered to, just like a divorce.

There are several reasons why a couple may opt for a legal separation instead of a divorce. One of the reasons is that the couple just may not be ready to decide if divorce is the best thing. The legal separation allows them to live separately to see if that is what they really want. Other reasons include religious reasons and financial reasons. If a divorce is not in line with your religious beliefs, a legal separation may be a viable option. While a couple is still legally married, the spouse can still take advantage of medical benefits from the other spouse's employer. Other financial reasons include Social Security benefits as well as military benefits.

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