What Is a Legal Separation in Illinois?
People often use the term “separated” to refer to married couples who have decided to end their marriage but are not yet divorced. Many people also use the term synonymously with living separately. However, there is a major difference between living separately and being legally separated. An Illinois legal separation involves a court order that binds spouses to certain terms involving property, financial support, and parental responsibility. Couples that are legally separated are still technically married and may not remarry until they get divorced.
Being Legally Separated Involves Much More Than Living Separately
There are a few reasons why a married couple may wish to be legally separated instead of divorced. Some couples simply want to avoid the finality of divorce. They may have serious marital issues to resolve but are hoping that they will be able to eventually reconcile. Other people choose to avoid divorce for religious or cultural reasons. There may also be certain financial and tax-related benefits associated with staying married. For example, an individual may wish to remain married so that he or she can continue to have access to his or her spouse’s health insurance plan or retirement benefits.
A legal separation is sometimes used when the actions of a spouse endanger the financial security of the other spouse. A legal separation closes the marital estate and divides the couple’s finances into two separate non-marital estates. After the separation is finalized, the spouses are no longer liable for the debts and property accumulated by the other. However, the spouses must reach an agreement about property division in order to divide assets during a separation. Unlike in a divorce, the court does not have the authority to allocate property through a legal separation.
Child-Related Concerns and Spousal Maintenance
A separation agreement contains all of the terms of the separation. These legally binding terms may dictate the distribution of property and debts, child support, spousal support, and the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Fortunately, spouses do not have to wait for the separation to be finalized to be granted temporary financial relief in the form of support payments. A spouse may petition the court for temporary spousal maintenance or temporary child support while the case is ongoing. If the spouses eventually decide to get back together, they can end the separation and continue on as a married couple. If they decide to divorce, they may already have many of the divorce issues figured out.
Contact a Kane County Legal Separation Lawyer
A legal separation may be an option you and your spouse want to consider before filing for divorce in Illinois. If you are interested in learning more about how a legal separation may benefit you or you are ready to file a separation petition, MKFM Law can assist you with the proceedings. Call our office today at 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced St. Charles legal separation attorney from our firm.