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Geneva divorce lawyersWhen it comes to the idea of a “separated” couple, there are two generally accepted definitions. The first is the one which you are probably most familiar: a couple who is unsure whether they should remain married or who has decided to pursue a divorce may describe themselves as separated because they are not currently living together.

The second definition is more formal and much less common, and it refers to a couple who has gone through the formalities of obtaining a judgment of legal separation. Under Illinois law, neither type of separation is a prerequisite for divorce, but a legal separation could be beneficial in certain situations.

An Important Date

Geneva property division lawyersIf you are considering divorce, you may be worried about how you and your spouse’s combined property will be divided. You may have seen television or movies where a spiteful spouse takes their former partner for everything, leaving the other spouse destitute. Luckily, the reality of property division during divorce is much more reasonable. Illinois courts distribute property and assets according to “equitable distribution” laws, which means that although property may not be divided 50/50, it will be divided justly.

What Is Considered Marital Property?

Not every asset that a spouse owns is eligible to be divided during a divorce according to Illinois laws. Only marital property, which is most property acquired during the marriage, will be equitably allocated between the spouses. This is not as simple as it may seem, however. For example, if a person is awarded a cash inheritance from a deceased relative, this money is considered separate property. It cannot be divided up during divorce. However, if the individual adds that money to a joint banking account or uses it to pay family bills, it becomes marital property and therefore is subject to division.

Kane County divorce lawyersMany couples, if not most, decide to combine their finances after they get married, effectively sharing their property and income. There may be situations, however, in which a spouse wishes to keep some of his or property separate even after he or she gets married.

Illinois Law on Marital Property

Illinois takes a very broad view of marital property. With a few exceptions, any asset or debt that is acquired by either spouse after the marriage becomes marital property. Assets or debts acquired before the marriage or that qualify as the mentioned exceptions are considered non-marital property. Non-marital property is not subject to division during a divorce, but assets that began as non-marital can become marital property if they are commingled.

Posted on in Family Law

Geneva family law attorneyWhen a person uses the word “separated” to describe his or her marital status, it usually means that he or she is estranged and living separately from his or her spouse. This is a common scenario for partners who may be contemplating a divorce or have initiated but not completed divorce proceedings. In some situations, however, a person who says that he or she is “separated” may actually have filed for and received a judgment of legal separation.

Unlike like an informal separation—known under Illinois law as living separate and apart—a legal separation is a court-issued declaration regarding the status of the relationship. A judgment of legal separation generally includes many of the same considerations as a divorce judgment. There is, of course, one major difference: the spouses are still legally married to one another, thus they are not free to pursue another marriage.

Why Legal Separation?

Kane County divorce attorneyDivorce can be a very complicated process with a large number of controversial issues for the spouses to resolve. Child custody—now called the allocation of parental responsibilities—is often high on the list of contentious topics, as one might expect, but for many couples, property concerns can be just as challenging. One of the biggest points of contention regarding property in a divorce is determining which assets and debts are part of the marital estate and, therefore, subject to division between the spouses.

Cultural changes have contributed to the difficulty of identifying marital property since more and more couples are waiting longer to get married for the first time. In previous generations, it was not uncommon for a couple to get married soon after high school or college, leaving each spouse very little time to accumulate wealth or debts before the marriage. By comparison, today’s couples are likely to spend a decade or more after high school earning money and acquiring property before deciding to get married.

What the Law Says

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