If you are considering filing for divorce in Illinois, there is important information you need to know. A divorce is a complex legal process, and can be a lengthy process as well. When you think about filing for divorce, there are numerous considerations to make. Additionally, before filing for divorce, you will need to meet certain criteria, such as residency requirements. In some cases, people considering divorce benefit from filing for a legal separation before initiating the divorce process.
What Does Legal Separation Mean?
Basically, a legal separation means that the courts recognize you and your spouse are separated, possibly with the intent of getting divorced. A legal separation is not the same thing as a divorce. It may be helpful to consider a legal separation as a step toward divorce. A divorce completely dissolves your marriage. That is, a divorce means that you and your spouse are no longer legally married. During your legal separation, you remain married to your spouse.
What is the Separation Process?
It is easy to confusion being separated from your spouse with legal separation. A formal legal separation requires a legal process. If you decide to move forward with this legal process, you will start by filing a petition for a legal separation. In that filing, you must show you meet the following requirements for a legal separation in Illinois:
- You must have resided in Illinois for at least 90 continuous days before filing;
- You and your spouse must be living separately from each other; and
- As the filing spouse, you must show you are not at fault for the separation.
After proving to the court you meet these filing requirements, your separation case will go through a process similar to a divorce case. You and your spouse may settle issues out of court during mediation, or you can request that a judge resolve your disputes.
Can We Go to Court During the Separation?
As mentioned above, there are some key differences between a legal separation and a divorce. One difference is that a legal separation does not actually end the marriage as a divorce does. Another major difference is how a judge can settle issues during a legal separation versus during divorce. In a divorce case, the judge can resolve any and all issues the parties do not privately settle out of court. An Illinois family judge can resolve disputes related to child custody, child support, property distribution, and spousal support (alimony). In a legal separation a judge can resolve matters related to child custody, child support, and spousal support. However, they can only handle property distribution issues at the request of both parties, not just the petitioning spouse.
Contact Aurora Family Lawyers
Whether you are planning on filing for divorce, or need to time to consider your options, you want to think about filing for a legal separation. Our experienced divorce attorneys can help you determine how a legal separation can benefit you. We understand that you likely have many questions about the process. We will answer your questions during your free initial consultation. If you live in the Aurora area and are considering a legal separation or divorce, contact the attorneys at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. today.