Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
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Is legal separation right for you?

For all intents and purposes, your marriage is over. Perhaps you and your spouse have known this for some time, and you expect that, at some point, you will divorce. For whatever reason, the time is not right for taking that step. One thing is clear, however; you and your spouse can no longer live together peaceably.

If you are not ready to sign divorce papers, you may place your rights at risk if you simply move out. In some cases, the best way to protect your rights until it is time to divorce is to consider a legal separation. Through this process, the court recognizes your separation and supports agreements you and your spouse make regarding critical issues, such as those related to your children and your finances.

Preparing to separate

A legal separation requires more than a spouse moving out of the house. You and your spouse will have to file for separation with the court and agree on the terms of the separation, including who will live where, how you will share custody and whether one spouse will pay support to the other. Additionally, you will want to take the following steps to protect yourself:

  • Be sure you are happy with the way you and your spouse divide your joint property since the court may use this division as the basis for your divorce order.
  • Separate your finances from your spouse's, including removing your spouse's name from your credit cards and opening an individual bank account.
  • Freeze joint accounts if your spouse will not agree to remove his or her name.
  • Make copies of your mortgage and any tax documents for the last six years or more.
  • Review health insurance policies to ensure you are still covered if you and your spouse separate.
  • Review retirement plans to see if your separation affects your benefits.

While these steps may seem similar to those you would take when preparing to divorce, a legal separation may offer you advantages a divorce will not. For example, you may want to continue claim certain tax benefits or coverage on your spouse's insurance. Perhaps you are still hoping to resolve your marital conflicts, or your religious beliefs prevent you from seeking divorce. Many couples separate until they achieve the 10-year milestone that allows the lower-earning spouse to draw on the higher-earning spouse's social security.

No matter your reasons, you have much to consider if you and your spouse plan to legally separate. Protecting your rights and future is critical, so the advice of an Illinois attorney may be advantageous.

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Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
104 South Charles Street
Belleville, IL 62220

Toll Free: 866-921-8767
Phone: 618-207-3458
Fax: 618-234-8028
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