Getting married is a personal choice, and each marriage will take a different path. Some spouses are certain when they want to end a marriage, and others never even consider divorce. Other couples may want to take time to live separately but might not be sure that divorce is the right move for their situation.
If you decide to live apart from your spouse for a period of time, you might want to consider getting a legal separation. While Illinois law allows legal separations, they are not highly common. However, if you plan to be separated for some time without filing for divorce, you should discuss this possibility with a Chicago family law attorney.
What is a Legal Separation?
A legal separation is an order from the family court that is similar to a divorce, though it does not legally end your marriage. This means that while the court order may decide several issues that are common in divorce cases, you will not be able to lawfully remarry without first obtaining a divorce. Legal separation cases can address the following:
- Child custody and support – If you have children and are living separately from your spouse, you will need to determine how you will share time and decision-making authority with the kids. A legal separation can nail down a custody schedule, as well as issue a child support order when appropriate.
- Spousal support – If you are living separately, but one spouse does not work or does not earn as much as the other spouse, the court may issue an order for spousal maintenance.
- Property division – Many spouses decide to divide up property so they can furnish two living spaces, as well as separate financial accounts while they are living separately. A legal separation can help dictate how the couple should do this.
If you plan to be separated indefinitely, it might be helpful to obtain a legal separation, especially if you have children or if spousal support might be necessary. However, many spouses decide to try separation for a brief period of time to see whether they want to divorce or not. In this situation, it might not be appropriate to file for legal separation, but that does not mean you should not have ground rules for the trial separation.
Many couples draft out-of-court separation agreements with the help of their attorneys that set the guidelines for custody and other issues during their trial separation. When the separation period ends, you can decide to stay married, file for divorce, or file for legal separation if you need a longer period of time apart.
Discuss Your Situation with a Chicago Family Law Attorney
The Law Offices of George M. Sanders works with clients in many types of situations. Whether you are considering a trial separation or a prolonged separation, we can help advise you of your options. If you later decide you are ready to file for divorce, our Chicago divorce lawyers can help you every step of the way. Contact us to learn how we can help.