Legal Separation in Illinois

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Legal separation in Illinois is a process recognized by the statute if Illinois and hence, requires a document for it to be legal. After the legal separation is granted to the couple, they are still married and cannot remarry. Their status changes from 'married' to 'legally separated'.

The petitioner should not be at fault for the marriage to collapse. The residency requirement for the legal separation in Illinois is more than 90 days before the date of filing the petition. If the respondent has never been a resident of Illinois, the court cannot order him / her to pay alimony, debts or any other expenses generally awarded to the petitioner in the separation cases.

A legal separation in Illinois is different than physical separation. In order to get a legal separation Illinois a couple should be independent of each other both physically and financially. There should not be a marital relation between them and they should not be living under the same roof.

The legal separation in Illinois begins with a lawsuit to change the marital status to 'legally separated' from 'married'. This lawsuit has to be filed in the county where either of the parties reside or where your family house is. It seeks to lead separate lives and judge's order on specific issues such as child custody, visitation schedule for non-custodial parent, child support and alimony, division of property, assets and debts, etc. This order needs to be issued by the judge and contains solutions on all the above mentioned marital issues.

In the cases where children are involved, parents are encouraged to reach an agreement regarding the child custody and payments for child support and alimony. The issues such as maintenance and property division are also addressed mutually by the parents.

Marital Separation Agreement in Illinois:

During the filing of the legal separation, the spouses must be living apart from each other. As the state of Illinois requires paperwork and court appearance, it is always advisable to sign a Marital Settlement Agreement. It should be filed with the clerk at the circuit court.

This marital settlement agreement, though prepared by the husband and the wife mutually, has to be approved by the court and they can ask you to change some of the things if they find it inappropriate.

Advantages of a Marital Settlement Agreement:

  • An agreement settles all the issues such as health care benefits, insurance coverage, tax exemptions, payment of debts as well as child and spousal support, which protects both the partners during the separation. When put into writing, signed by the concerned parties and approved by the court, this agreement becomes a legally binding contract and no one can do away from their responsibilities and duties.
  • As the separation period can be indefinite and the couple wants to ponder over all the possibilities, doing away with the responsibilities can help them concentrate on their children and marriage and the consequences of the separation on their lifestyle and the psyche of their children. Besides, it is always difficult for the spouses to come to the terms with separation when they have a family.
  • The separation decree approved by the court can be used as the guideline for determining the marital issues when the couple eventually decides to file for a divorce. It is an ideal reference material for sorting the issues. Besides, due to the fluctuating market conditions, the assets, investments and debts can be an altogether new headache in the light of impending divorce. The court generally does not change this agreement except for a few changes regarding the permanence of the divorce.
  • Besides, once the marital and individual and marital property has been determined, it helps in inheritance in the light of the death of one of the spouses. The other spouse inherits all the property just like a married couple would do.
Grounds for Legal Separation in Illinois:

According to the Illinois statute, the separation can be granted on a few grounds where the petitioner has to put the blame on the respondent in order to attain the separation. These grounds for separation are as follows:

  • Adultery and Bigamy - Having multiple sexual partners and romantic liaisons while being married to a person constitutes adultery. Being married to a person while getting married to the current spouse constitutes bigamy.
  • Desertion or Abandonment - Couple living apart because one of the spouses stays out of the house willfully constitutes desertion. Couple living under the same roof yet not engaging in sexual relations constitutes abandonment. In both cases, the fault spouse does not contribute in any way to the marriage or the household.
  • Abuse - Substance abuse as well as physical and mental torture such as hitting, sadomasochism, habitual drunkenness constitutes abuse.
  • Cruelty and Inhuman Behavior - Denying basic rights, locking up the partner, denying sexual relations, hitting, bashing, etc constitute cruelty and inhuman behavior.
  • Conviction - Imprisonment due to the conviction of felony such as fraud or criminal offense constitutes conviction.

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