When certain married couples in Illinois decide that the union is not working, they choose to legally separate rather than immediately divorce. Some couples never divorce at all, instead choosing to live separately. There can be numerous reasons for this from personal to religious to professional or a combination of these. There are laws that govern how this is handled just as there are laws covering what happens when a couple divorces. One issue that arises is spousal support if the couple is still married but is legally separated. It is important to understand this dynamic if there is a legal separation.
While the couple is living apart, there may be a reasonable request for spousal support to be provided. It is required that the action be brought in the circuit court of the particular county of residence or where the couple last lived together. The way this is done is the same as if there was a divorce. There are, however, limits based on the situation being a legal separation and not a divorce. There are certain factors that will be considered by the court when deciding whether spousal support should be provided while the couple is legally separated.
The court will not place a value on or allocate property if there is no legal separation agreement. If the agreement is found to be unconscionable by the court, then it has the power to disapprove of the agreement. The agreement will be final and is not able to be modified. If there is a legal separation, then either spouse can still file to dissolve the marriage. If the law for dissolving a marriage is met, then the divorce can move forward. Unless there is an agreement in which the maintenance agreement cannot be modified, then a divorce will mean that the allocation of assets, property and spousal support can start over again for the divorce proceeding.
Regardless of the reason that a couple chooses to have a legal separation in lieu of an immediate divorce, there are family law issues that must be understood before going forward. With any aspect of family law, it is key that the participants have a firm grasp on what they want, need and can achieve through the separation and divorce. Speaking to a legal professional experienced in family legal issues is imperative.
Source: ilga.gov, “Sec. 402. Legal Separation,” accessed on Nov. 10, 2015