Attorneys Help Chicago-Area Residents Weigh the Benefits of Divorce vs. Separation

Chicago Divorce Attorneys

Consider the advantages of a non-permanent solution

Divorce may be unpleasant, but it is most certainly final, which is why some people consider separation as an alternative. The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. can help you determine whether separation is more appropriate for you and whether it is advisable if you have already filed for, or will be filing for, divorce.

The meaning of legal separation

Being separated and being legally separated are two different things. Separation can be achieved simply: All that’s required is you no longer date each other or operate a unified household. So even if you continue to live under the same roof for the benefit of the children, you can live “separate and apart.”

Legal separations are more complex in that they require a court filing, just like a divorce. Both parties appear before a judge, and the court may enter an award of allocation of parental responsibilities, spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support, just like in a divorce case. The court may also distribute marital property — in a legal separation, though you remain married, the marital estate is closed and two separate financial estates are created.

The only difference between legal separation and divorce is that with a divorce you are single and can remarry, but with a legal separation, you’re still married.

When it’s time to consider a legal separation

If your religious beliefs preclude divorce, separation may be the solution.

A legal separation may also be advisable if it becomes apparent your divorce case will drag on past an important financial deadline. A legal separation may enable you to accelerate the distribution of marital assets and help you both save on taxes while your other divorce issues are pending. This strategy must be implemented carefully though, because in certain circumstances it may save one spouse money at the other’s expense.

Other reasons to file for legal separation in Illinois include:

  • A spouse may be able to retain certain benefits held during the marriage. If you are covered by your spouse’s health insurance plan, for instance, your legal separation agreement may stipulate those benefits remain in effect, assuming the insurance carrier permits it.
  • A separation agreement can outline who is responsible for what regarding jointly owned property. If you both own a home, for instance, the separation agreement may stipulate who will be responsible for mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, lawn care and maintenance.
  • An agreement may stipulate that all joint bank accounts are to be closed and that both spouses must open accounts in their own names.
  • An agreement may also stipulate who pays for what on any jointly held credit accounts and protect you from being responsible for any debt your spouse acquires during the period of separation.
  • A legal separation may be converted into a divorce at any time.

Requirements for legal separation

You must be living separate and apart prior to filing for legal separation. Filing spouses must also establish that they are not at fault and have not contributed to the separation.

If one of you has filed or will be filing for divorce, you will both want to follow your legal separation agreement to the letter. The court will consider whether you honored the allocation of parental responsibilities and financial support provisions of the legal separation in issuing its divorce order.

Hire competent counsel to make the divorce process easier

You will find you have many options when it comes to dissolving your marriage, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. draw on 25 years’ experience and a thorough knowledge of both divorce and tax law to help you get through what may be one of the most challenging experiences of your life. Call us at 847.897.5288 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.