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Living Separate and Apart Prior to Divorce

 Posted on April 03, 2018 in Divorce

Lombard divorce attorneyMost of us know at least one married couple who are living separately. In some situations, spouses may experiment with a “trial separation” while in others, they are living on their own as they prepare for a divorce. Living separately is a common precursor to divorce, but there are some things you should know about separating before you or your spouse moves out.

What the Law Says

Prior to 2016, the law in Illinois required a couple to live separate and apart for a minimum of six months before they could pursue a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. The standard requirement, in fact, was two years, but if the spouses agreed, the separation period could be reduced to six months. Today, a couple can only seek a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences in Illinois, but the separation requirement has been eliminated altogether. The law was changed in 2016 to allow couples to pursue a happier post-divorce future without having to simply watch the calendar for months. If the spouses do not agree on the divorce, however, a six-month separation period is considered by the court to be irrebuttable proof that the marriage has broken down beyond repair.

Pros and Cons of Separating

If your marriage has become unhealthy and unhappy, separating for a little while before you file for a divorce may be a good idea. The time away from your spouse can give you the space you need to cool down and clear your head. You and your spouse can set rules for how to handle the separation, and being apart may allow you to identify how you have contributed to the breakdown of your marriage. Experts suggest that the decision to divorce should only be made after a period of calm, objective reflection. Rushing to file a divorce petition could result in the end of an otherwise salvageable marriage.

Keep in mind that you are still married, even if you decide to separate. This means that you must still keep up with all of your financial obligations. It also means that anything you buy and any debt you accrue during the separation are likely to be considered marital property if you choose to divorce.

Finally, remember that if your separation extends beyond six months, you could be facing a divorce, even if you do not want one. The law considers a separation of six months or more to be irrefutable proof that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences.

We Can Help

At A. Traub & Associates, we understand that it can be extremely difficult to manage a relationship that is in the process of breaking down. If you are considering moving out or you are already separated, contact an experienced Lombard divorce attorney to get the guidance you need. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation with a compassionate member of our team today.



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