Get Help for a Legal Separation in Woodridge
If you are having trouble in your marriage but you are not ready for the finality of divorce, a legal separation may be your best option.
In a legal separation, the couple gets a judgment from the court that states their new legal status. A legal separation is more than just physically separating and living apart. You and your spouse will still be married and cannot marry anyone else, but you will be eligible to have the courts determine your rights and obligations and also settle many of the same issues as if you had divorced.
Issues involving legal separation are complex, and making mistakes can be costly, so if you are considering legal separation or divorce, the experienced and compassionate Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., can help. We are committed to providing legal representation of the highest quality, have substantial experience in contested family law matters, and are aggressive in protecting our clients’ rights and assets. At the same time, we focus on preserving relationships, which is often essential for co-parenting when children are involved.
We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your individual situation, so call one of our offices today at 630-305-0222 to get started.
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Getting Help with a Legal Separation in Illinois
Why Choose Our Legal Separation Attorneys?
There are many attorneys out there, and when dealing with sensitive family law matters, you should choose one you can trust and feel comfortable with. At Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., we are fully committed to open communication and developing a strong relationship with you to provide you with the best service possible. Here are some reasons why we believe you should choose our legal separation attorneys in Woodridge:
- All of our attorneys have extensive backgrounds and proven track records. Attorney Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, has been practicing for over 20 years and concentrates on pre- and post-decree marital and family law cases, including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. Marc D. Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal defense matters in Illinois for over 30 years, and has tried over 300 cases to verdict. You can read more about them here.
- We specialize in family law cases, and will help guide you through the legal processes involved and fight for your rights and those of your children.
- We are available 24/7.
- We are local and familiar with local issues and local courts in Chicago, Woodridge, and throughout DuPage County.
- We provide free, confidential, and no-obligation consultations to evaluate your case.
- We are happy to give advice to help you in any way we can and will be there for you throughout the entire legal process, answering your questions and addressing your concerns.
How to Get a Legal Separation in Illinois
In Illinois, legal separation is a court-approved status by which separated spouses agree to live independently, physically and financially. To get a legal separation, you will have to live in the state for more than 90 days. If you have children, they must live in Illinois for six months before the court can decide custody issues. If your spouse has never lived in Illinois, you can still get a legal separation, but the court may not be able to decide issues like child support and maintenance.
To start the legal separation process, at least one spouse will need to file a petition for separation. The request must include information that includes each spouse’s age, occupation, residence, the date of the marriage, the date of separation, and whether there are children of the marriage. You will also have to demonstrate that at least one spouse lives in Illinois at the time you file the petition.
Legal separation is not the same as simply separating from one’s spouse by living apart, and it does not legally end a marriage. After a legal separation, spouses are still married, but the court can determine issues that include:
- Child support and custody issues such as allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, child support.
- Spousal support and maintenance
- Division of property — The court cannot divide property unless you and your spouse agree and ask the court to divide your property.
To get a legal separation, you must be physically living apart from your spouse and file a petition for legal separation with the Circuit Clerk in your area. You can file for legal separation and then decide later if you want to obtain a divorce, reconcile, or continue living separately legally.
Separation Agreements in Illinois
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract that lists the terms both parties agree to for their separation. It is a written document that both spouses and the judge sign at the end of the legal separation process. The agreement should include the information about the important issues involved as to:
- Support, visitation, and parental rights and responsibilities regarding children
- Spousal support and maintenance
- Property division and distribution of debts.
Once signed, the separation agreement is a court order. Modifying the agreement requires approval from the other spouse or the court.
Reasons for Legal Separation in Illinois
Why Get a Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce?
There are a wide range of reasons couples decide to get a legal separation. Commonly used reasons include the following:
- One spouse has problems such as substance abuse, mental illness, or major trauma that results in threats to the financial security of the other. In this case, the legal separation allows the creation of two separate financial estates, where one spouse can control the assets and debts and damage can accumulate in the other estate. Spouses remain married for purposes like insurance and retirement benefits, etc.
- For divorce cases that drag out for a long time and involve financial deadlines such as taxes, sheltering assets, and avoiding debt, legal separation may allow the couple to receive benefits now and deal with other issues later.
- You are a couple with religious objections to divorce.
- You currently don’t qualify for a divorce for reasons such as not having established residency.
- Spouses share health insurance that would typically terminate after divorce or are close to cashing in on valuable tax or other federal benefits, such as social security, that might be negatively impacted by divorce.
Be aware that there are some spouses who try to hide assets to avoid dividing them. If you’re involved in a legal separation and think your spouse may try to hide marital assets, you should consider converting the legal separation into a divorce so the court can act to protect and preserve marital assets.
Since issues can be complex and separation agreements require a detailed document that depends on the unique circumstances of your marriage situation, it pays to consult a DuPage County attorney to prevent making mistakes and make sure your rights are protected.
Our Attorneys Answer FAQs about Legal Separation in Woodridge
Let Us Take Care of Your Questions and Concerns
If you are considering a legal separation, chances are you have a lot of questions that need to be answered. While these are best addressed in your free consultation, to get started, here are some answers to questions our attorneys are often asked.
How can I be legally separated in Illinois?
To be separated legally, you must file a petition with the court and have it granted. You will need to tell the court that either both spouses agree to the petition or that one person moved and you’re now living separate and apart. You will receive a court order for your separation, which is binding once signed by a judge.
How does a legal separation work in Illinois?
You and your spouse negotiate the terms of the separation, including how to divide marital property and debts, child custody, and child and spousal support. You may decide on details such as to who stays in the marital home. In Illinois, your agreement can continue indefinitely, or you may decide to reconcile or to divorce.
Is legal separation a good idea?
Legal separation is a good idea in many situations. It allows you to experience what it would be like to dissolve your marriage, without going through the finality of the divorce process. It maintains legal benefits that are only available to married couples. It sets everything down in writing so obligations of both spouses are clear. In addition, if you acquire assets after the separation, they belong to you alone.
Is legal separation expensive?
The cost of a legal separation depends on the circumstances involved. It does not have to be expensive if spouses can compromise and agree on the terms. If you and your spouse are fighting about major issues and the process become contentious and drags on for a long period of time, a separation can become as expensive as a divorce.
Can a legal separation be converted into a divorce?
Yes, couples can decide to convert their separation into a divorce. This usually occurs when one spouse or the other wants to marry again and therefore wants to officially dissolve the marriage.
When does legal separation begin?
Legal separation begins when you receive a court order from a judge that states that you are legally separated and enumerates the terms of your separation agreement.
Can you be legally separated and live in the same house?
Yes, there are situations, such as when affording two homes is too expensive, where couples decide to share the same house. They can still be living separately by each having their own lives and not acting as if they are married, sexually or socially.
At Wolfe & Stec, we are here to answer all your questions, and we will be there for you throughout the entire process. Call us today for your free consultation at 630-305-0222.
Call Us for a Free Consultation with an Illinois Legal Separation Lawyer
The skilled Illinois legal separation and divorce attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the laws, the courts and the system and are available to guide you through every aspect of your legal separation. We can make sure you and your children are protected should you later decide to divorce.
Our fundamental success as a law firm has been in building quality relationships with our clients. We are dedicated to personal attention, responsiveness, and accessibility, and we have a long history of success.
Don’t delay. Make sure your legal consultation is done correctly from the start. For a free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County lawyer, call us today at 630-305-0222.
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