Legal Separation Versus Divorce in Illinois
If you are considering splitting up with your spouse in Illinois, you have several paths for doing so. Most couples end their marriage through divorce, but a legal separation is another option married couples have. Separation differs significantly from divorce, mainly in that separation is not designed to be permanent. Married couples seeking a divorce in Illinois are not required to be legally separated before getting divorced, but some couples choose to pursue a legal separation for other reasons.
Benefits of Legal Separation
Legal separation is a milder option than divorce. There are only a few reasons a couple may pursue a legal separation. Being legally separated can provide couples time apart before they make a final decision about whether or not to actually get divorced. Some people get a legal separation for religious or cultural reasons. Furthermore, separation can be a useful legal tool for individuals with complicated financial situations such as business owners or venture capitalists. When a couple is legally separated, the wealth and property they accumulate during this time is not considered marital property. If you believe your divorce may be extensive, a separation can protect you and your assets during the process.
Unlike in a divorce, the court does not have the authority to divide property of a legally separated couple. If the couple reaches a property settlement on their own, the court may include that agreement in the Judgment of Separation. There is no requirement to divide property when pursuing a legal separation.
Physical Separation Is Not Legal Separation
It is important to note that being physically separated from your spouse or no longer sharing a life together is not the same thing as being legally separated. Couples with a legal separation are still legally married. However, legally separated couples are subject to the same laws regarding child custody and child support as divorced couples. If a separated couple decides to file for divorce, many of the details may already be decided.
In order for an Illinois court to grant a couple a legal separation, certain conditions must be met:
- The spouses must live apart from one other; and
- One or both spouses must reside in Illinois.
Once a Judgment of Separation is issued, it can only be vacated by further action through the court system. Some couples, however, choose to remain separated permanently instead of pursuing a divorce.
Contact Our DuPage County Family Law Attorneys
If you want to learn more about legal separation or divorce, contact the highly skilled and experienced Wheaton divorce lawyers at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC. Call 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation today.