Making the choice to end a marriage relationship is never easy. You may be certain that you and your spouse no longer want to remain in the same house and function as partners, but you may also be unsure if divorce is a smart option at this time. For Illinois couples that do not want to move forward with a formal divorce, a legal separation is a smart and often beneficial option.
Legal separation allows couples to live separately while remaining married. Of course, you could simply move out, but a legal separation agreement provides both parties with certain benefits and protections. If you no longer want to live in the same home, but are not ready to divorce, a legal separation could be right for you.
The right legal separation agreement
Like all agreements pertaining to family law, it is beneficial to ensure that your legal separation agreement provides all parties with security and reduces the chance of complications in the future. Because the period of legal separation can last for a long time, months or even years, it is beneficial to ensure your agreement addresses the following issues:
- Child custody and visitation schedule
- Which parent will make decisions for the child, which is legal custody
- How parents will handle the financial needs of the child
- Property division and payment of marital debt
- Financial support
- What will happen to the family home
Legal separation and divorce are similar in some ways, but there are distinct differences between the two. For example, legal separation can allow couples to share health care coverage, and it does not eliminate property rights in case one spouse dies. However, divorce will permanently end those rights and privileges.
There are many reasons why a couple would want to opt for legal separation over a formal divorce. Whatever the reason, it is beneficial for you to explore all options before proceeding.
Guidance for your important family law decisions
It is prudent to know all of your options before moving forward with a divorce or legal separation. If you do choose to separate, it is smart to draft a strong agreement that will allow for stability for the duration of the separation period. In some cases, couples who separate are able to use their legal separation as the foundation for a smart and workable divorce order, if they choose this step.