What It Means to Be Legally Separated

 Posted on January 20, 2016 in Legal Separation

legal-separationFor many Illinois couples, a legal separation is the first step toward a divorce. It is a way to legally designate the end of a couple's relationship so any property acquired between that point and the couple's divorce is not considered to be marital property.

For other couples, a legal separation is a step to take to decide if divorce is right for them – a couple might know that their relationship is not healthy, but not know whether ending their marriage is the right step to take.

For others yet, legal separation is an attractive alternative to divorcing because although it severs the couple's relationship with each other, it does not sever their marriage and the benefits that accompany it.

What you can and cannot do while you are legally separated is not always obvious. Some actions, like remarrying, require an individual to get divorced first. Others, like cohabitating with a new partner, are more ambiguous. If you are considering legally separating from your spouse, discuss the actions you may and may not take with your attorney.

You Can Receive Spousal Maintenance (or Be Required to Pay It)

Individuals who are legally separated may seek spousal maintenance payments from their spouses if they can prove that the separation will create a significant financial burden on them following years of being out of the workforce or earning less than they were capable of earning in order to devote time to the couple's household and family.

As with divorced individuals receiving spousal maintenance, the payments may stop once the recipient becomes self-sufficient. The paying spouse may also petition to have the payments ended if the recipient moves in with a new partner and no longer needs the support.

You Cannot File Your Taxes as Married

If you are legally separated by the court, you may no longer file your taxes with your spouse as a married couple. This is not the case if you are simply living apart from your spouse or if you currently have a divorce pending – if you were legally married on December 31st of a given year, you may file your taxes for that year as part of a married couple.

You Can Reconcile

If you file for a legal separation and then decide to get back together, you can simply withdraw your petition and end your case. However, if your legal separation has already been granted, you will need to file a motion to the court to have the separation agreement canceled. Your attorney can walk you through this process and help you repair your marriage if you find legal separation is not the right choice for you.

Work with a Kane County Divorce Attorney

When you are ready to end your marriage, whether you plan to end it through divorce or through legal separation, contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney to work through the necessary processes. Our team can help you through these processes by providing you with quality legal advice tailored to your specific situation.




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