separation to divorce

How Long to Wait After Separation to Divorce?

If you and your spouse are considering divorce, you may wish to consider a legal separation first. In Illinois, married couples have the option to file for divorce immediately on the grounds of irreconcilable differences or seek a legal separation. This law changed in 2016. Prior to 2016, Illinois couples had to live separately for six months prior to seeking a divorce. 

There are many advantages to legal separations. They can be a great option for couples who:

  • Want to take advantage of health care, Social Security or tax benefits
  • Cannot divorce for religious reasons
  • Are not sure that they wish to divorce

If you are considering a legal separation or a divorce, it is important to review your options with an attorney. Your Barrington divorce attorney can review the circumstances and help you choose the options that fit your needs best. In some cases, a legal separation may be the preferable pathway. 

What is Legal Separation?

Legal separation is similar to a waiting period for married couples to help them determine if divorce is right for them. It is different from just physical separation because legal separation involves the determination of child support, maintenance, and custody. It also determines the separation of property. In essence, it allows married couples to live separately and apart in the same way they would live if they were divorced. However, it is not as final as divorce, so couples can still work to reconcile if they wish. Throughout the legal separation, the couple is still legally married and cannot marry anyone else until they finalize their divorce. 

To get a legal separation in Illinois, you must physically live apart from your spouse and have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days. The children must have lived in Illinois for six months before the courts will allocate parenting time. Since Illinois is a no-fault state, you do not have to prove fault. 

Like a divorce, you and your spouse must come to an agreement regarding support, maintenance, property division, and parenting time. Once you have reached a separation agreement, the courts will allow the separation, as long as it meets the children’s best interests. The legal separation agreement is binding and a judgment. Unless changed by a court, both you and your spouse must follow the details in the legal separation agreement or face possible contempt of court. 

What happens if you cannot afford to move? Fortunately, Illinois realizes that it is not always financially possible for a couple to buy two residences. Living “separate and apart” does not always mean physically. It simply means that you have stopped living as a typical married couple. This means you are not sleeping in the same bed, attending social events, or having sexual relations. It can also mean that you have taken some care to separate your finances. When living in the same residence with your ex, it is important to have a lawyer on your side to safeguard your future and protect you from financial liability. 

How Long Should You Wait To Get Divorced?

There is no magic number that is best when considering divorce. Some couples know they will not reconcile and wish to get through the divorce process quicker. Others want to try separating before deciding whether divorce is right for them. Fortunately, divorcing couples in Illinois have options. 

When deciding how long to wait to get divorced after you are legally separated, you should take stock of your life carefully. This involves answering several questions, including:

  • Do you and your ex-spouse have any plans to reconcile? 
  • Are you trying to work on your marriage in counseling?
  • Is staying married financially beneficial because of health care or benefits?
  • Is staying married beneficial for religious reasons?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be beneficial for you to remain legally separated. If you answered no to all of those questions, it may be time to consider a divorce. 

There are many reasons to consider a legal separation and many reasons to get divorced. That is why it is best to discuss your case with an experienced Barrington divorce attorney. Your attorney can review your situation and help you determine how long you should wait before getting divorced. By working with an attorney, you can rest assured knowing your rights are protected every step of the way. 

Contact Our Barrington Divorce Attorneys

If you are considering a legal separation or divorce in Illinois, you need someone on your side from the start. The Barrington divorce attorneys at Manassa Law P.C. can help you choose between legal separation and divorce, depending on your unique situation. To learn more about divorce, legal separation, child custody, or parental rights, contact us immediately. Call at (866) 390-0672 or fill out our confidential contact form for a free consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate Barrington divorce lawyers. We are pleased to serve clients at our North Barrington, Waukegan, and Hinsdale offices. Call today!

Larry Manassa
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