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IL family lawyerFor many married couples, it can be hard to know when to officially call it quits. Many couples consider divorce for months or even years before they make the decision to end the marriage. You may find yourself in that situation now. Perhaps you are unhappy in your marriage but you still hope that things can change. In situations like these, many couples decide to undergo a “trial separation.” If you are interested in temporarily separating from your spouse, it is crucial that you know the potential legal and financial ramifications.

An Information Separation Is Not a Legal Separation

People often use the word “separation” in reference to both living apart and getting legally separated. However, these are two completely different situations in the eyes of the law. If you are living apart from your spouse, this alone does not change the status of your relationship. A legal separation, on the other hand, involves a legal action. If you get legally separated, you and your spouse will formally decide on issues like the division of assets and debts, parenting time and parental responsibilities, child support, and spousal support. You can reach an agreement about these issues outside of court, or if you cannot reach an agreement, the court will hand down a decision. The only issue that Illinois courts cannot determine during a legal separation is property distribution.

An Informal Separation Can Leave You Vulnerable During Divorce

If you and your spouse decide to live apart for some time while you work out your differences, you should know the impact this can have on your finances and your potential future divorce. Simply living in separate homes does not afford you legal protections the way a legal separation does. For example, if your spouse racks up a great deal of debt during the trial separation, you could still be on the hook for repaying it. Courts also cannot enforce any informal arrangements you make about child support or spousal support.

You should also know that the child custody arrangements you decide on during the trial separation can influence future child custody decisions if you divorce. Illinois courts aim to make divorce as easy on children as possible. This means that they are more likely to favor the “status quo” as opposed to a new custody arrangement. For example, if your spouse kept the children during the school week during your trial separation and you decide to divorce, the court may favor keeping the custody arrangement the same.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

If you want to learn more about legal separation or divorce, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. A Kane County family law attorney can help with matters related to child custody, property division, child support, and more. Call 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation.

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