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How Can I Obtain a Legal Separation in Illinois?

McHenry County legal separation lawyerThe decision to divorce is not an easy one to make for many people, especially if a couple has been married for a long time. In certain situations, spouses may opt to try a legal separation before officially divorcing. Following an order of legal separation, estranged spouses will agree to live independently of each other, separating both their physical residences and their finances. The couple will remain legally married, and neither spouse can remarry unless they get a divorce.

As the old adage says, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” For some partners, living apart allows them time to work on their marital problems. However, they may also find that they are thriving on their own and enjoy living separate lives. If you are considering which option is best for your situation, it is important to know the legal requirements for legally separating in Illinois. In the state of Illinois, some of the same issues that are addressed in a divorce will need to be resolved in a separation.

Advantages of a Legal Separation

A legal separation is more than just a couple living in different homes. In a legal separation, decisions regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, child support, and spousal maintenance will all need to be made, just like in a divorce. Property division may only be made if the parties agree. A legal separation agreement will need to be prepared. This legally binding document can be especially beneficial for any children the couple had together, since it provides for their well-being. For a parent who stayed home to raise kids, spousal support can help him or her financially while he or she seeks employment or goes back to school.

Depending on the situation, a legal separation may make more sense for some people than a divorce, since staying married in the eyes of the law can have several benefits, including:

  • Spouses can continue to receive health insurance, social security, and pension benefits.
  • Divorce may not be preferable due to religious reasons.
  • A couple may not be ready for the permanence of divorce.
  • A couple may continue to file income taxes together, saving on tax liabilities.

Filing for a Legal Separation

To obtain a legal separation in Illinois, you must be living apart from your spouse when you file a Petition for Legal Separation with your local circuit court. Even if one spouse does not reside in Illinois anymore, the other spouse can request a legal separation in the Illinois county in which he or she lives. Some of the other stipulations for filing for a legal separation include:

  • One of the parties must have resided in Illinois for at least 90 days prior to filing the petition.
  • Any children involved must live in Illinois for at least six months (with some exceptions).

Once the petitioner files for separation through the court, the respondent can reply to the petition by voicing his or her defenses or wishes. A judge will then review the case at a hearing and decide whether to grant the legal separation. The judge may make decisions regarding allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, child support, or spousal maintenance. However, a judgment of legal separation will not include any terms regarding property division unless they are agreed upon by both spouses.

Contact an Illinois Legal Separation Attorney

Divorce is a major step for any couple, since it legally terminates the marriage. In some cases, spouses may not be ready for that, and they may choose a legal separation first. The Thomas Law Office has handled numerous divorce and legal separation cases and can help you understand your rights and work with you to create a separation agreement that meets your needs. Call our skilled McHenry County family law attorney today at 847-426-7990 to schedule a consultation.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=3700000&SeqEnd=5200000

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