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Not Feeling the Love This Spring?

By Nottage and Ward on April 5, 2018

For many people, spring is about starting over again and getting your life in order, and that includes recommitting to serious relationships. For others, it means the opposite—time to change or end a relationship that only causes discontentment. But, if you don’t want to divorce, it may seem like there’s no way out of this tough situation.

Fortunately, in the state of Illinois, estranged couples have another avenue available to them: legal separation.

As many of our clients don’t have a clear idea of what legal separation means, we’ll provide a quick explanation for you.

Illinois law defines legal separation as a court-approved arrangement in which spouses agree to live independently of each other, both in physical and financial terms. However, the couple is still technically married, and neither spouse may marry someone else.

As part of the separation, the couple has filed a written agreement with the court regarding who has access to what property, particularly any shared residences. Additionally, if the couple has children, they will agree to a custody arrangement, including a parenting time schedule. If there will be any sort of spousal or child support, this will also be laid out. The couple will need to follow the provisions of the agreement just as with a divorce decree.

While legal separation has many of the same attributes of a divorce, it also has one possible benefit over a divorce: it’s not permanent. Legal separations are especially beneficial to couples who want to leave the door open for a reconciliation in the future.

So, what is the process for getting a legal separation?

Honestly, not that different from a divorce. You must first qualify for Illinois residency. It’s easiest if both spouses live in the same county, but if your spouse lives elsewhere, even out of state, you can still petition for a legal separation. You must also already be living separately when you file.

If you are both in agreement, the process will be much smoother, but it’s also possible to file on your own and serve your spouse with a summons.

While you can undertake this process by yourself, it goes much more smoothly if you have an experienced Illinois family law attorney representing you. Our friendly and knowledgeable lawyers at Nottage & Ward, LLP, can help you assess the advantages of a legal separation and offer advice on the best course of action for you and your family. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at (312) 332-2915.

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