Sometimes a couple needs to live apart but they are not willing or ready for a divorce. In cases like these, a legal separation may be appropriate. A legal separation is handled in much the same way as a divorce, but the marriage is not terminated at the end of the proceedings.
The Role of the Court
The court’s first job in a legal separation case is to make sure the marriage is valid and at least one of the parties meets the residency requirement of living in the state for at least 90 days.
The court also oversees the division of marital property, decides child custody and parenting time, and makes decisions about child support and alimony. In a legal separation, the court makes sure the parties’ affairs are separated and detailed in order to allow both sides to exist as separate households.
The two sides can try and settle the issues without going to a full trial. Any issues that they cannot settle will have to be decided by the judge. It is possible for the party that filed for the legal separation to dismiss the case if the other side never filed any counterclaims.
Why Someone Would Want A Separation and Not a Divorce
Some people do not want to get divorced for religious reasons. Others stay married for reasons having to do with work benefits or retirement concerns. Some couples are not ready to officially end the marriage, but can no longer live together.
Every case is different and there are hundreds of different reasons a legal separation may be the best option for a couple.
Moving From Separation to Divorce
A couple can remain legally separated for the rest of their lives. However, neither spouse is allowed to remarry because they are still legally married, even though they are separated.
If either spouse wants to convert the legal separation into a divorce they can file a motion with the court any time after the legal separation. The legal separation will become a dissolution of marriage. Once the dissolution is final, both parties are free to marry again.
Requesting the separation be converted into a dissolution of marriage does not give anyone the chance to litigate the issues such as custody, maintenance, or the property division a second time.
If you have any questions about legal separation or any other family law issue, you need to speak with an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-868-3093 today to set up a consultation at the Wheaton office of Keller Legal Services, P.C.