What Are the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce in Illinois?
Couples who are considering getting a divorce have another option besides permanently dissolving their marriages. For some couples, a divorce is necessary and in their best interests, but for others, a legal separation may be a better solution. Legal separation shares some similarities with divorce, but it has certain differences, as well as some unique benefits.
Legal Separation Basics
In legal separation cases, a couple who is no longer living together has the option to make arrangements for property division and parental responsibilities without actually filing for divorce. The couple will remain legally married, and thus cannot remarry until a formal divorce has been finalized; however, each spouse will be granted certain rights, protections, and privileges when it comes to debts, assets, and children. Additionally, maintenance and child support concerns are typically discussed during legal separation proceedings. Couples may choose to divide marital property during the proceedings, but they can also delay these negotiations until a formal divorce is filed.
Illinois law requires that the couple be living apart to file for legal separation. Either spouse may file, and either spouse may ask the Court for “reasonable support and maintenance” while the pair is living apart. It is important to note that the Court will enter orders for maintenance, child support, and parental responsibilities, if necessary, but the Court will not order the division of marital property in a legal separation. An agreement between the spouses, however, may be approved by the Court.
Various Benefits for Separated Couples
There are many reasons that a couple might elect to obtain a legal separation. For example, some couples have religious or personal objections to divorce. In other cases, the couple might not wish to be together anymore, but they may remain married to maintain eligibility for health insurance and other marriage-related benefits.
A legal separation can also help in asset and property division disputes. If the couple is legally separated, and one party receives a raise or significant amount of money, they are protected from having to share this wealth with their spouse. Even if a divorce occurs in the future, any assets acquired after a legal separation will not be subject to division.
Another benefit to legal separation is that the separation agreement does not end until the couple takes action either to divorce or get back together. If the separated couple does pursue a divorce, the process is usually easier, because custody and alimony arrangements have already been made.
Contact a Hoffman Estates Family Law Attorney
If you are considering filing for divorce or pursuing a legal separation, contact the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson to speak to a Mt. Prospect divorce lawyer. We are ready to provide the skilled guidance and trusted representation you need to do what is best for your family. Call 847.873.6741 to set up a free consultation today.