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illinois legal separation lawyerIllinois offers two options for spouses who want to split up - divorce or legal separation. Legal separation allows the court to step in and help determine matters like allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities, or even spousal support. Property division in legal separation can only be handled by a court if both spouses agree to the terms of property division. However, a legal separation does not end the marriage. Spouses who legally separate are still spouses. Divorce is final and allows the court to determine all issues related to the termination of your marriage. There are a number of reasons that spouses may want to separate without fully divorcing. A family law attorney can help you decide which option is better for you, your spouse, and your children. 

Reasons Spouses May Legally Separate Without Divorcing

Some reasons that you and your spouse may wish to get a legal separation instead of a divorce include: 

  • Benefits - Many spouses need to remain married in order to keep benefits like health insurance, pension funds, or social security. Divorcing may mean that one or both of you will lose out on important benefits. Legal separation allows you to live separately without terminating the benefits you rely on. 
  • Possibility of reconciliation - A legal separation is much easier to undo than a divorce. If you get divorced, you would have to remarry. Remarrying an ex-spouse after divorce can be complicated, as each of you now has significant separate property that you were awarded in the divorce. If you legally separate, it is easier to undo the separation, move back in together, and go back to living as a married couple. 
  • Taxes - Some spouses wish to avoid getting divorced so they can continue filing taxes jointly. 
  • Religion - If your religious beliefs or culture does not allow for divorce in normal circumstances, a legal separation may be a good option. It allows you to live independently from your spouse and divide parenting duties without getting divorced. 

Disadvantages of Legal Separation Over Divorce

There are of course, a few downsides of legal separation, such as: 

geneva divorce lawyerThroughout history, the typical family dynamic included a husband, wife, and children living in a home together. However, in 2022, blended families have become normalized and accepted into mainstream culture. It used to be standard for a man and woman to marry, have children, and live together. Today, many families live together and share finances, property, and children without being legally married. There are legal protections for unmarried couples living together to ensure their rights are protected. One way partners can protect these rights is through a cohabitation agreement.

Who Can Obtain a Cohabitation Agreement?

Cohabitation agreements are legally recognized documents that outline the rights of unmarried couples living together. These couples include unmarried partners who are in a long-term, intimate relationship. In many states, these relationships are known as common-law marriages. The National Conference of State Legislatures defines common law marriage as a marriage acknowledged by the state without the partners obtaining a legitimate marriage license. Common-law marriages are only accepted in a handful of American states, and Illinois is not one of the states that approve common-law marriages. This is why it is essential for unmarried, long-term partners who share property and finances to create a cohabitation agreement to protect their assets. 

Kane County Family Law AttorneyWhether you have heard of a cohabitation agreement or not, you might need one if you are living with but not married to your romantic partner. It is becoming increasingly common for couples to live together in long-term, committed relationships without choosing to legally marry. The reasons couples may elect not to marry are numerous and varied. Some simply do not see the need for a “piece of paper” to show commitment. Others prefer to avoid legal entanglement. 

However, in the event that such a relationship ends, there is likely to be a legal entanglement of some type anyway, often in the form of joint property or even children in common. A cohabitation agreement can help you address how certain issues would be settled should you split, or should one of you pass away. These agreements may be the best way for unmarried couples to legally protect themselves. 

What Are the Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement?

When a married couple splits, they must go through formal divorce proceedings. During a divorce, a court oversees the equitable distribution of marital property and addresses any child custody concerns. No such process exists when unmarried couples split. A cohabitation agreement can help with: 

Geneva family law attorney for annulmentThere are millions of married couples in Illinois and throughout the United States. However, not all marriages last. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. Many people may equate a divorce with an annulment or even a legal separation, but they are not the same thing. In a divorce, a couple will seek to dissolve a valid marriage. In an annulment, the marriage is ruled as invalid, as if it never happened. Some people assume that an annulment is easier to obtain than a divorce, but that is not always true. Annulments can have stricter requirements and time limits when compared to a divorce. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is essential that you hire professional legal counsel to fully understand your legal options.    

Declaration of Invalidity 

It is important to note that an annulment is not the same thing as a divorce or legal separation. When married couples legally separate, they live apart but are still technically married in the eyes of the law. An annulment is a way for two people who are in a fraudulent or invalid marriage to legally leave the marriage by essentially voiding it. A marriage can be deemed invalid for various reasons, including if one party was unable to consent to the union due to:

  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Coercion
  • Incest
  • Bigamy
  • Inability to consummate the marriage
  • Being underage at the time of the wedding

A marriage can only be annulled if the court issues a Declaration of Invalidity. An invalid marriage represents an illegal relationship and is therefore not recognized by the state. 

Kane County juvenile criminal defense lawyerIn the United States, a person is considered a juvenile if he or she is under 18 years old. You may have heard the phrase “juvenile delinquency” before, but you may be unsure about what it actually means. It is generally defined as the repeated commitment of criminal offenses by a young person, typically one below the age at which traditional criminal prosecution is possible. In many instances where a crime was committed by a minor, a separate juvenile court system hears these cases and promotes rehabilitation as opposed to penalties such as jail time. Nonetheless, it is important to know that as an Illinois parent, you could be held liable for injuries or losses caused by your child’s actions.

Possible Penalties for Retail Theft by a Minor

Under Illinois law, shoplifting is also referred to as retail theft or larceny. The crime of shoplifting involves taking an item from a store or retailer with the intent to deprive the owner of its full or partial value. This can mean the offender places the product in his or her pocket or backpack without paying for it. It can also include switching price tags to make an item scan at a lower cost. 

Depending on the age and cooperation of the juvenile thief, the act of shoplifting may be handled in various ways. A store may or may not call the police or press charges. The child could get off with simply a warning. In most situations, the minor’s parents will be notified of the incident, and the retailer will likely prohibit the juvenile from entering the store again. Even if the authorities are called, a minor shoplifter who is taken to the police station may still only receive a warning if it is his or her first offense. 

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