As is the case in many other states, under Illinois law, Rockford residents are allowed to file for a legal separation in lieu of a divorce. People may want to explore this option for a variety of different reasons.
In some cases, couples need to separate but have moral or religious objection to divorce, while in other cases, there is a psychological or emotional barrier to ending one’s marriage in the eyes of the law as opposed to just taking a break. In some cases, legal separation may even be in couple’s best financial interest.
On a practical level, a legal separation works much like a divorce in that a judge will issue orders regarding the allocation of parenting time and authority and will also establish child support. The court can also make orders pertaining to alimony, which can be important when the couple needs to figure out who is going to pay what bills.
There are, however, a couple of areas in which legal separation is different from divorce.
For one, and perhaps most importantly, a legal separation does not end a marriage. This means Illinois couples that have a legal separation are not free to marry again until they ask for and receive a divorce.
Furthermore, unless the couple can agree on how to divide it, a court will not permanently divide the marital property of a couple that is seeking legal separation. While this might not seem like an issue as long as the relationship between the couple is reasonable cordial, it can be a real sticking point when a couple disagrees about how to handle a particular piece of property.