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Should I Get a Legal Separation Before My Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Illinois Divorce

St. Charles divorce attorney legal separation

Some states require a waiting period during which a married couple must be separated before a divorce can be finalized, and Illinois used to be the same. However, since 2016, an Illinois couple can proceed with a divorce at any time as long as one of the spouses has been an Illinois resident for at least 90 days and the marriage has broken down due to irreconcilable differences. That said, while a legal separation is no longer a necessary step on the path to divorce in Illinois, it is still an option, and you may have questions regarding whether it is a good idea in your case.

Potential Benefits of Legal Separation

Many married couples choose to live apart from each other while considering a divorce. If you and your spouse have already taken this step, but you are not yet sure that you want to initiate divorce proceedings, you can instead petition for a judgment of legal separation. Doing so offers several possible legal benefits, including:

  • Court-ordered child support - As part of a legal separation, the court can issue an order requiring that one parent pay child support to the other. This may be an important step in formalizing each parent’s obligation to contribute to your children’s needs.

  • Spousal maintenance - If you are experiencing financial hardship during your separation, perhaps because you are a stay-at-home parent or you are struggling to obtain employment, the court may order your spouse to make maintenance payments so that you can uphold your accustomed standard of living.

  • Property division implications - After a judgment of legal separation, new assets acquired by either spouse are considered non-marital property, meaning that they will not be subject to division in the event of a divorce. As part of a petition for legal separation, you may also submit a property settlement that you and your spouse have agreed to, which can begin the process of dividing marital property.

Resolving some of these issues at the time of the judgment of legal separation can help the divorce process move forward more smoothly if you eventually decide to go through with it. Additionally, if there is any question as to whether there are irreconcilable differences in your marriage, a legal separation in which you and your spouse have lived apart for at least six months is sufficient to definitively establish that there are legal grounds for a divorce.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

If you have questions about the differences between divorce and legal separation in Illinois, or if you are looking to move forward with one of these legal options, contact an experienced St. Charles divorce attorney at Weiler and Lengle PC by calling 630-382-8050 today. We can advise you on your best course of action and help you achieve your desired outcome.




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