Legal Separations are options in Illinois, but they are almost never used. Being legally separated is very different from "being separated." When a couple fights and one spouse moves out for a while, that's being separated. A legal separation is entirely different.
Legal Separations are done in the court just like in a divorce case. Papers are filed just like in a divorce case. Both parties have an opportunity to appear before a judge just like in a divorce case. The court may enter an award of maintenance (alimony) and child support just like in a divorce case. If the appropriate papers are filed, the court may even divide up property just like in a divorce case. The "marital estate" is closed and two new, separate financial estates, for inheritance, tax purposes, business deals, etc., are created, just like in a divorce. Legal separations are just like a divorce... except you're still married.
The only difference between a legal separation and a divorce is this: with a divorce, you're divorced and you can remarry if you want; with a legal separation, you're still married to the same spouse.
Legal separations are used strategically by divorce attorneys in some cases that may drag on for a long time and pass some critical financial deadline. By achieving a separation early, the property of the marital estate may be valued and divided immediately without having to wait until all the messy little details are taken care of. By advancing the date of the termination of joint property rights, the attorneys may help the divorcing couple avoid a huge tax bill, realize other tax advantages, or may otherwise help them shelter assets or avoid debt.
Keep in mind that any legal separation may, at any time, be converted into a divorce. Court procedures have to be followed, but the process is fairly straightforward.
If you are interested in pursuing a legal separation or learning more about your options, a lawyer at Grunyk & Associates, P.C. can assist you.
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To speak with one of our experienced attorneys about separation, email our office today.
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