How does legal separation work in Illinois?

As is the case in other states, Illinois law allows a Lake County couple who need to live apart but who, for whatever reason, do not want to go through a full divorce to ask instead for what is commonly referred to as a legal separation.

After a legal separation, the couple remains married in the eyes of the law. This means that they are not legally free to marry another person. On the other hand, it also means that they may be able to claim some of the benefits reserved to married couples.

Although in many ways legal separation otherwise works like a divorce, Illinois' laws are a bit unique in one respect. Specifically, during the course of a legal separation, a court will have the authority to handle issues related to spousal maintenance, the allocation of parental responsibilities and child support.

A court will not entertain arguments about how to fairly divide property between the spouses, although the court can accept and approve an agreement between the couple regarding the division of their assets and debts.

There are a number of reasons why a couple in Lake County may want to consider a legal separation. As mentioned, sometimes there are financial benefits to doing so.

In other cases, a couple may decide that a legal separation would be easier for social or emotional reasons, or perhaps because the idea of a legal separation would be easier on their children. In still other cases, moral or religious convictions about marriage may play a role.

Whether a legal separation is right in a person's individual case is really a matter best discussed with one's family law attorney.

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