If you’ve been thinking about divorce but aren’t fully ready to commit to the prospect, a less permanent option to consider in Illinois is Legal Separation. As an alternative to divorce, it gives you a break from your spouse and allows you time to digest your options before you make a permanent decision.
Maybe you need time for counseling or time away from your spouse to think. A legal separation is court ordered and allows you to live financially and physically apart without terminating your marriage. After trying this option, a couple can choose to keep the separation in place permanently, divorce or remove the separation order and reunite.
In addition to wanting to make the right decision, couples may find this an appealing option if religious beliefs prevent them from divorcing or if they want to keep the financial advantages of marriage such as tax benefits.
Legal separation is court ordered
Because it’s court ordered, a legal separation can help couples live apart but with clear definitions around property division, child custody and child support without the long-lasting result. They’re still married so couples choosing separation may not marry someone else or commit adultery, but it does give them the advantage to get back together if they were to choose that after some time alone.
If a couple decides to reunite, they don’t need to marry again but do need to petition the court to end the separation. If they ultimately decide to divorce, having the separation agreement in place may make the process easier since matters such as custody and property division have already been outlined.
For a court to consider this a viable option, the couple must be living apart and the petitioning spouse can’t be at fault for the separation (for something like adultery.) Both parties agree upon and sign a separation agreement that addresses the terms of the separation including child custody and property issues. Couples could separate on their own but having the court order in place makes your agreement easier to enforce if future conflicts were to arise.
Even if your relationship ultimately ends in divorce, trying a legal separation can give you peace of mind in knowing that you tried every option.