Pet Visitation In The State Of Illinois

pet visitationIt is common knowledge that when parties divorce, they have to figure out how to share time with their children and divide their personal property, among other issues. However, one thing that may not be regularly considered, except perhaps by some pet lovers, is determining which party will keep a pet.

On a temporary basis, Section 501 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act permits either party to request, on a temporary basis, sole or joint possession of and responsibility for a companion animal, or pet, that is owned jointly by the parties.[1] In determining who should get possession of the pet, the court considers the well-being of the pet.[2]

Illinois law also provides a provision for determining ultimate ownership of pets at the finalization of a divorce. Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that if the court finds a companion animal of the parties to be a marital asset, the court will allocate sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for the pet.[3] Again, in making this determination, the Court is to consider the “well-being” of the companion animal.[4] It is important to note here that the definition “companion animal” does not include service animals.[5] Because of the nature of their work, service animals remain with the individual who requires their service.

Prior to 2018, family pets were simply treated as property to be divided up between the parties at the time of divorce. In fact, in 2015, the First District Appellate Court decided a case, In re Marriage of Enders,  in which the trial court had entered an order temporarily granting “joint custody” of the parties’ dogs.[6] However, the wife denied the husband visitation of the dogs and he filed for visitation of the dogs prior to the final trial.[7] The trial court found that, despite the order granting joint custody, the husband had no visitation rights under the law at that time and the Appellate Court affirmed such.[8] The Appellate Court’s reasoning in 2015 was that under the Animal Control Act the wife was the “owner” because she was the one who “keeps or harbors” the dogs and has them in her care.[9] Interestingly, the EndersCourt warned that awarding pet visitation “would only serve as an invitation for endless post-divorce litigation,” citing a New York Supreme Court case.[10] Despite this warning, Illinois changed its laws in 2018 to allow for sole or joint possession of pets, as described above.

Because these changes to the statute are still relatively new, we do not yet know how courts will treat ownership of pets going forward.  There are many questions that will be answered in the coming years as the courts clarify the role of pet visitation and ownership in a divorce proceeding. Some of these questions include, how will the Court determine the “well-being” of the animal, will parenting plans need to be prepared for the schedule of the animals, will the parties have to agree on a course of treatment if an animal is sick or injured, and many more.

If you have any questions regarding pet visitation, divorce, or other legal matters, please contact our office for help at shererlaw.com or 618-692-6656.

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

[1]750 ILCS 501(f)

[2]Id.

[3]750 ILCS 503(n)

[4]Id.

[5]Id.

[6]In re Marriage of Enders, 48 N.E.3d 1277 (1stDist. App., 2015).

[7]Id.

[8]Id.

[9]Id.

[10]Id.

2019 Changes to Illinois Maintenance Laws

changes to Illinois Maintenance lawsStarting January 1, 2019, the Illinois maintenance guidelines are undergoing changes that may impact your pending divorce.  Under both the current and new maintenance guidelines, the law sets out certain calculations to be used in determining the amount of maintenance. These calculations apply when the gross annual income of both parties is less than $500,000.00 and the person who will be paying the maintenance is not under an obligation from a prior relationship to pay child support, maintenance, or both.[1]  In cases where a party is already obligated to pay child support or maintenance from a previous relationship, or when the gross annual income of the parties is more than $500,000.00, the court will determine the amount of maintenance, if any, by looking at things such as the parties’ age, health, work history, length of marriage, and other factors.

Under the current 2018 guidelines, maintenance is calculated by taking 30% of the payor’s grossannual income minus 20% of the payee’s gross annual income. Regardless of the calculation, the final maintenance amount is not to exceed 40% of the combined gross income of the parties.

However, this calculation will change after December 31, 2018.  The calculations to be used when the parties’ combined gross annual income is under $500,000 have undergone some significant changes. Starting January 1, 2019, maintenance will now be calculated by taking 33 and 1/3% of the payor’s net annual income minus 25% of the payee’s net annual income.[2]

Another major change for maintenance payments beginning in 2019 is that maintenance payments will no longer be deductible for the payor and the payee will no longer claim such payments as income tax.  Keep in mind, however, that if your maintenance order was entered prior to January 1, 2019, the old tax rules will apply, unless you later agree otherwise. This means that the payor will still be entitled to deduct those payments and the payee will be required to claim the payments as income, unless the parties expressly agree otherwise.

For more information and help regarding a divorce, maintenance obligations, maintenance tax consequences, or other matters, please contact Sherer Law Offices at (618) 692-6656.

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

[1]750 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/504 Effective until January 1, 2019

[2]750 ILCS 5/504 Effective January 1, 2019

Divorce: How to Break it to the Kids

break it to the kidsOne of the worst parts of getting divorced is when you have to break it to the kids. Depending on how old the kids are and how much the marriage has deteriorated, they may have already guessed what’s happening, but you should still broach the subject carefully. We’ve come up with some tips to help.

Do It Together

It’s always hard to do things with your soon-to-be ex, but it’s important to remember that you will both continue to be parents, so this is a good time to start practicing how to raise the kids as a divorced couple.

Plan Ahead

There’s no way to map out exactly how a conversation will go, and you can’t expect it to happen just the way you plan it, but you can foresee some questions (maybe even objections) and decide how you’ll address them. Because you and your partner should have the conversation with your kids together, you should also complete the planning stage together. It’s important that you both agree on how and when to broach the subject, as well as the kind of language you’ll use. The words you choose to use can make a big difference, so it’s important that you decide carefully, agree on it beforehand, and stick to the plan.

Talk to Everyone at Once

If you have more than one child, be sure to talk to all the children at the same time. This is not a situation to deploy the “divide and conquer” strategy. While it might be tempting to try to talk to just one child at a time, in reality that will just lead to confusion for them and emotional exhaustion for you, since you’ll have to have the same tough conversation multiple times. It will also give them a chance to talk about it amongst themselves before you have a chance to talk to each of them, which will lead to rumors and fear.

Answer Any Questions

They’re bound to have questions: where will they live? Who will they live with? Will they still see both parents? Will they still be a family? It’s important to address all these questions and any others they might have in order to reassure them that your decision to end the marriage has nothing to do will your love for them.

Be Prepared for Multiple Conversations

It will take a while before they’ll be able to fully digest what you tell them and what it might mean for them. Be prepared for them to come back later with more questions and be open to answering all those questions. Just keep in mind the first rule of talking about divorce with the kids: do it together. You might not both be in the same room when one of your kids asks you about the divorce, (they’ll likely feel more comfortable talking to one parent than the other), just remember the words and language you and your partner decided on and continue to abide by that plan. You should also keep your partner in the loop about any questions or concerns your children are having, just as they should keep you abreast of anything that one of the children might approach them with after the initial conversation.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

What if You Discover Hidden Assets During Your Divorce?

hidden assetsIn a 2014 survey, one in three people admitted to “cheating” financially on their spouse. It could be anything from hiding bills from their spouse to lying about how much money they make or how much debt they have, to something as big as hiding assets from their spouse. But everything tends to come out during a divorce, so what do you do if you’re in the middle of divorce proceedings and you suddenly discover hidden assets?

Tell Your Lawyer

If you hired a good divorce attorney, your attorney will attempt to find any hidden asset(s) during the discovery phase of the divorce proceedings. You will work closely with your attorney to review the financial discovery from the other party to see if anything appears off or suspicious.  If the attorney finds anything suspicious, they’ll know the next best steps to take from there. It could be anything from asking the judge for more time for the discovery process to filing a motion to have your spouse held in contempt of court. There are many reasons people hide money and assets during a divorce, but it’s against Illinois law, and depending on the circumstances, people who do so risk contempt of court and even perjury if they lied under oath about the hidden asset. That means they may have to pay some hefty fines and might even serve some jail time.

If you happen to find out about the asset on your own (for example, if you find a misplaced bill or bank statement), then the first thing you need to do is inform your lawyer so they can determine the next steps to take.

Look for the Warning Signs

If you think your spouse may be trying to hide money from you or the divorce court, here are some things to look for:

  • Overpaying taxes – some people do this so they can collect a large refund after the divorce has been finalized.
  • Delaying raises or bonuses – some people ask their employers to hold off on raises or bonuses until after their divorce is final. If your spouse had mentioned they were expecting a raise or bonus that never came and they suddenly stopped talking about it, that would be something to investigate.
  • Putting property in someone else’s name – if it looks like they gave away a lot of money or sold an asset for much less than it was worth, that’s suspicious behavior that should be investigated, especially if the person who now “owns” it is a friend or family member of your spouse.
  • Suspicious business holdings – if one of their business accounts suddenly received a large amount of cash, they could be using it to try to hide money they don’t want to get divided up in the divorce.

Regardless of the methods used to hide money or assets, doing so is always against the law and can come with severe penalties in an Illinois divorce court. Whether your spouse is trying to hide assets so they don’t get divided up along with the rest of the marital property, or so they don’t go into the child support and/or spousal support calculation, you’ll need an experienced Illinois divorce attorney on your side.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

What Is A Postnuptial Agreement?

postnuptial agreementYou’ve probably heard of a prenuptial agreement, in which the two parties entering into marriage sign a contract detailing what belongs to whom, and what is owed to each party in the event of a separation or divorce. Most people prefer to sign such a contract before the wedding to give them peace of mind before they legally merge their lives together.

But just because you didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement, doesn’t mean your financial situation is set in stone. Much like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can help provide peace of mind to one or both parties – the main difference being that it’s drawn up and signed after, rather than before, the wedding.

How Do You Know if You Need A Postnuptial Agreement?

There are a few reasons you and/or your spouse might want a postnuptial agreement. Most of the time they are used to protect one spouse’s marital property interests in the event the other spouse is embarking on a business venture that will entail a significant amount of risk. On the other hand, if one spouse suddenly came into a large inheritance, they may want to protect that asset in the event of a divorce, in which case a postnuptial agreement can provide that assurance.

Other times the couple may have wanted a prenup, but never got around to signing one before the wedding. In a time where more and more couples are comprised of spouses who both work outside the home, fewer people feel like the concept of communal property makes sense for their circumstances.

Alternatively, if two people get married and only then realize that they have very different ideas about how to handle money, a postnuptial agreement can help to save their marriage by defining which assets and properties belongs to which spouse. If you’re having marital problems, and you feel like your finances might be at risk because of it, a postnuptial agreement can allow you to focus on working on your marriage instead of worrying about your financial assets. Many people feel more comfortable working on relationship issues they may not otherwise have given a chance without a postnuptial agreement.

On the other hand, if you’re seriously considering divorce, a postnuptial agreement can save time and money in the divorce process by dividing property and assets ahead of time.

The birth of a child is another common reason people sometimes seek out a postnuptial agreement, especially if one or both of the spouses was previously married to someone else. A postnuptial agreement can clarify the child’s inheritance rights of property and finances from the current marriage and/or one or more previous marriages, if necessary.  However, you cannot pre-negotiate child support.

Previous marriages can also make inheritance tricky if one spouse dies, which is another common reason for seeking out a postnuptial agreement. In that situation, a postnuptial agreement can clarify who owns an asset in the event of a divorce or the death of a spouse.

There are many reasons for wanting a postnuptial agreement. Whether your circumstances have changed, or you just wanted the additional peace of mind a contract can bring, the family law attorneys at Sherer Law Offices are here to help.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?How long the does the divorce process take? That depends on a lot of factors, including how complicated the division of assets is (how many assets, children, pets, etc.) and how well you two cooperate in the divorce process. If one spouse decides they want to drag it out, they can make it last years.

The Requirements

First, there are some requirements you need to meet before you can even file for divorce. These include the fact that, under Illinois law, you or your spouse need to have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days before you can file for divorce in Illinois. If children are involved, that limit goes up to 180 days. If for some reason you don’t meet the time limit and you can’t wait, you’ll have to file in another state.

In Illinois, the only remaining grounds for divorce is irreconcilable differences.  Under Illinois law, if you and your spouse have been living separate and apart for 6 months, irreconcilable differences are presumed. If you have not been living separate and apart for 6 months, you can still file for divorce, but you must allege that irreconcilable differences have arisen and prove same.

Uncontested Divorce

The best-case scenario is when you and your spouse can both agree that divorce is in everyone’s best interests, and you can agree on things like the division of assets, spousal support, and parenting time. These divorces can be completed in as little as two weeks, but more commonly take a month or two.  If there are children involved, both parties must complete a parenting class prior to the entry of the final judgment.

Contested Divorce

When you and your spouse can’t agree on one or more of the important factors in the divorce, that’s known as a contested divorce and it can take much longer – anywhere from 18 to 30 months and on. Each issue that you and your spouse can’t agree on needs to be determined by a judge, and each time you need to go before a judge to argue your case extends the time it will take before the divorce can be finalized.

Divorce by Publication (Default)

Maybe things have deteriorated in your marriage to the point where you don’t even know where your spouse is currently living. If this is the case and you want to seek a divorce from this person, you’ll need a divorce by publication, which requires a few steps.

First you need to attempt to notify the spouse of your intention to divorce them. If you don’t know where they are, you can publish a notice of your intention in local newspapers in the area where they were last known to reside.

You also need to do everything you can to try to locate your spouse. This might include things like calling their friends and family, their last known residence/landlord, employer, etc. There’s no definition for the things you need to do in order to prove you made an effort to reach your spouse, but you do need to provide sufficient evidence that you did everything in your power to reach them. This process could take months.

The missing spouse needs to be given a reasonable amount of time to respond to the notice of your intention to divorce them, but if they fail to respond, then the court will grant your divorce. At that point, you will need to publish notice of the divorce in all the local papers in the area where your spouse was last known to reside.  After publishing the notice once a week for three weeks without a response, the court will deem the divorce to have been finalized.

The Attorneys

Unfortunately, some attorneys will take advantage of the friction in divorces and drag out the process, so they can bill more hours on the case. We never do this. Our job is to serve you and make the process as easy and painless as possible. If you’re considering getting divorced and you need a family law firm you can trust, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

How Are the “Best Interests of the Children” Determined?

Best Interests of the ChildrenWhen a couple with children decides to get divorced, the first question is usually: how will it affect the children? In most cases, everyone wants what’s best for the children, including the court, but what, exactly, does that mean? And how does a court determine what’s in the best interests of the children?

Ideally, the couple can agree on what’s best for their children and work together to come up with a Parenting Plan that decides how much parenting time each parent gets, where the children will live, who pays child support and how much, etc. The Parenting Plan needs to be approved by a judge, but judges do often assume the parents know what’s best for their children. So long as the Parenting Plan does not run afoul of the law, go against public policy interests, and/or seem unconscionable (meaning no reasonable person would agree to it), the Parenting Plan will be approved by the Court.

Most couples can agree on how to raise the children after the divorce, but sometimes a divorce happens in which the couples can’t agree, and no amount of mediation can help them reach common ground. In that case, the court will have to step in and make up its own mind as to what’s best for the children of the divorcing couple.

In addition to determining how to split parenting time, most judges will also decide which parent gets to make the major parenting decisions (where the children will go to school, who their doctor will be, when they can get their driver’s license, etc.) In Illinois, the law requires that the Court allocate decision-making responsibilities to the parents, either by having them jointly decide one category or by having one parent be solely responsible.  With the 2016 amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the Court now specifically has to award decision-making responsibility for the 4 following categories:  Health/Medical, Education, Religion, and Extracurricular Activities.  For each category, the Court must indicate whether both or one parent can decide that issue, so it is possible for one parent to have sole decision making on something like medical decisions, but the other parent to be solely responsible for educational decisions.

When allocation of decision-making is contested, Judges must look at 15 factors and weigh them against the existing facts of that case. Those 15 factors are:

  • The children’s wishes;
  • How well the children have adjusted to their current home, school, and community in general;
  • The mental and physical health of everyone involved in the divorce;
  • The level of conflict between the parents and their ability to work together to make decisions;
  • The level of each parent’s past participation in making significant parenting decisions;
  • Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents regarding the making of parenting decisions;
  • The wishes of the parents;
  • The children’s needs;
  • The distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the children, each parent’s daily schedules, that of the children, and the likelihood the parents will be able to cooperate in an arrangement;
  • Whether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate;
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to foster a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the children;
  • Any history of physical violence or threatened physical violence directed at the children by either parent;
  • Any history of abuse against the children or any member of the child(ren’s) household;
  • Whether one of the parents is a sex offender, the nature of their offense, whether they’ve sought treatment, and the nature of that treatment;
  • Any other factor the court might find relevant.

It should be noted that this is not a tally in which parents should aim to win the most points. Each judge will give more weight to some factors than others and it all depends on the situation. If you have any questions about what this might mean for your case, contact us today.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

Who Gets to Keep the House?

Who Gets to Keep the HouseWho gets to keep the house is often one of the most highly contested aspects of a divorce. Not only is it the largest piece of marital property, but it’s also where the couple made a home together. Many people might want to keep the house, not for its value, but for sentimental reasons, or because it’s the only home they’ve known for the past several years, or even decades. On the other hand, others might want nothing to do with a house that is now tainted with negative associations of an unhappy marriage, but they may need the house as a financial asset to help them get back on their feet after the divorce.

Try to Reach an Agreement

The ideal situation is always to talk with your spouse about what you want and why. Have an honest conversation about what each of you wants and needs from the divorce and how the house plays into that. Maintaining honest communication with your spouse is especially important if you decide to divorce through mediation or work together to come up with a divorce settlement that works for both of you.

Marital Property

The first thing to determine is whether the house can be considered marital property. In most cases the answer is yes, since newlyweds tend to buy a house together shortly after getting married and/or people move into new homes together after they’ve been married for several years. If one spouse owned it prior to the marriage, but the other made mortgage payments and/or other significant contributions to the maintenance of the house, or additions or projects that significantly increased its value, then it could give that spouse certain rights to seek a monetary award from the home.

But not all marital property is split 50/50 under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Instead, it gets divided based on several factors, including, but not limited to, the level of contribution by each spouse to acquiring and maintaining the property, the duration of the marriage, other property the parties will be receiving in the divorce, as well as their needs following the divorce.

Factors that Tend to Be Considered When Deciding Who Gets the House

That said, there are also other factors that play into the decision regarding which partner gets to keep the house. For example, if children are involved, the partner given the most parenting time in the divorce usually gets the house so they can keep living there with the kids. Divorce can be especially hard on children, and most judges are sensitive to the fact that letting the kids stay in the same house with one of their parents can help them adjust to the big change. Allowing the kids to stay in the house also means they don’t have to switch to a different school district or leave their friends behind, which is good for them, not only because it means minimizing the changes they have to go through, but also because they have a support system in place to help them deal with the stress of the divorce.

Sometimes the decision is less one of “who gets the house?” and more one of “who gets to stay in the house for now?” For example, if there are children involved, and the partner with the most parenting time gets to stay in the house with the kids, judges have been known to allow them the first opportunity to stay in the home. However, this is dependent on other factors, such as that spouse’s ability to refinance the mortgage, if the loan is in both names, and for that spouse to be able to afford to pay the mortgage following the divorce.

Regardless of whether children are involved, one spouse might be allowed to keep the house on the condition that they buy out the other spouse’s interest in the property. In a spousal support arrangement, the higher-earning spouse may be required to continue making mortgage, taxes, and/or insurance payments on the house, even if they no longer live there.

As you can see, divorce is a complicated situation and the more property is involved, the more complicated it gets. If you are getting, or considering getting divorced, contact our offices right away to discuss your options.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

Can I Start Dating During a Divorce?

dating during a divorceEven though you and your spouse have decided to call it quits, dating during a divorce can be very tricky and should be approached with caution because it can come with serious legal consequences.

First of all, be especially careful if there are children involved in your divorce. Not only do you want to avoid causing them any more pain and confusion than they’re already feeling, but a vengeful spouse can use evidence of another relationship to show you’re not mindful of the children’s best interest. The last thing you want is your spouse using your new relationship (or relationships) as evidence that your home will not be a good environment for your children. This is especially true if you decide to rub their face in it. Don’t flaunt your relationship by making a big deal about it on social media or talking about it with a lot of people. Instead, you’re better off keeping the relationship quiet until the divorce has been finalized. You can still see your new flame, but keep it off social media and make sure only a few trusted friends and family members are aware of the new relationship. At the same time, however, your soon-to-be ex should be one of the people you do inform about the relationship, particularly if you have children.

Second, if you are planning to seek alimony in the divorce, engaging in a new relationship may have consequences on your arguments for seeking spousal support. Many litigants make the mistake of rushing into a new serious relationship and/or moving in with the new significant other, which can result in the Court determining that the spouse has a new source of financial support and no longer is reliant on his or her current wife/husband to make ends meets. While the factors for determining cohabitation are complex, and should be discussed with an attorney, it is usually best to avoid moving in with a significant other altogether.

Third, while you may want to go out on dates or take vacations with your new significant other, expenditures on such things may be considered by the Court to be “dissipation of assets.” What this means is that if you spend $5,000.00 on a trip to Hawaii with your new beau, your spouse could then be entitled to seek an award of $5,000.00 from your other assets to compensate him/her for money you spent on a “non-marital purpose.” Dissipation claims can be very expensive to litigate, so most attorneys will suggest that you only maintain the status quo during your divorce process when it comes to expenses.

Finally, be very careful to make sure you are spending only your own money on this new relationship. Never, ever spend marital funds or money from marital assets on another relationship because the court may require you to pay that money back to your spouse. In fact, you’re better off not spending much money at all on the new relationship. If it looks like you have money to burn, the court may either lower the amount of alimony you’re eligible to receive or increase the amount you’re required to pay, depending on your circumstances.

Of course, every marriage (and by extension, every divorce) is unique. You and your spouse may have agreed to see other people before the divorce is finalized. Your spouse might even be seeing someone. Know your spouse and know yourself in order to determine what would be the best course of action for your unique situation. In some cases, it might be putting off a new relationship until you’ve both finished signing the divorce papers.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

What’s the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?

Difference Between Separation and DivorceThe main difference between separation and divorce is that, when you’re separated, you are still legally married to your spouse. While separations often lead to divorce, divorce is not inevitable once a couple decides to separate. Some couples take some time off from each other to reassess the state of their marriage. Some people decide to take a new, more successful approach to their marriage after that, while others decide to make the separation permanent by filing for divorce.

First, there’s the distinction between a trial separation and a legal separation. A trial separation is when you and your spouse decide, on your own, to live apart for a time to take a break from your marriage. The separation can last as long as you want, since it has no official end date, and you and your spouse are free to divide up the bills and assets during the separation as you see fit. This works pretty well for most people, to the point where some states don’t even provide legal separation as an option.

Obtaining a legal separation requires a court order and often involves much of the same legal processes as a divorce.

Separation is a kind of middle ground between marriage and divorce. You and your spouse remain legally married and cannot remarry until you obtain a divorce. In a legal separation, the judge cannot divide marital property unless the parties agree to the division, but they can determine custody issues, child support, and alimony for the duration of the separation.

Like divorce, in order to obtain a legal separation, you have to file a petition for legal separation in the county in which you live, then serve your spouse with papers informing them of your intention to separate.

In Illinois, you are required to have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days before you can ask for a separation in Illinois. You can still request a legal separation in Illinois if your spouse lives in another state, as long as you have lived in Illinois for the minimum required time period.

If children are involved, then the children must have lived in Illinois for at least six months before an Illinois court can determine custody. If your children live with your spouse in another state, you will likely need to file for separation in the state in which they live. Be sure to look up that state’s requirements before you file or speak with a licensed attorney there.

Once you file for a legal separation, the court will begin the legal process, and that process will ultimately end with the Judge setting a hearing date, much like a divorce hearing. There you will have your opportunity to present your side of the case and the judge will make their decisions regarding custody (or parenting time, as it’s referred to in Illinois), child support, and alimony.

Don’t forget that mediation is always an option and can help the separation process. It can make the entire process go much more smoothly than if you and your spouse are forced to abide by terms laid out by a judge. Couples who mediate their separations and divorces are more likely to abide by the terms of the agreement and are less likely to end up back in court.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. See additional disclaimers here.