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What Are My Options for Ending a Marriage in Illinois

Posted on in Divorce

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When you imagine ending your marriage, the term divorce likely pops into your mind. You may be thinking of how your marital property will be divided, where your children will live, and whether or not you will receive alimony payments from your former spouse. However, filing for divorce does not necessarily have to be your first step if you would like to end your marriage. Maybe you are not ready to divorce just yet or you have reason to believe that your marriage may be considered invalid. Regardless of the reasoning, you should know your options before taking legal action.

Legal Separation

Many couples separate before making the decision to file for divorce. This allows them to test out living apart and reevaluate their feelings for their spouse by taking a step away from the relationship. Though the couple may be living separately, they may not have a legal agreement dictating their arrangement. Being legally separated means creating a separation agreement with your spouse and a family lawyer. Similar to a divorce agreement, a legal separation agreement outlines the terms of child custody matters, possible alimony payments, and more. They also may address the length of the separation before each partner must reevaluate their situation. Some couples may remain legally separated and never file for divorce so that they continue to qualify for the benefits allotted to married couples, such as shared insurance and taxes. However, without getting divorced, you are unable to remarry and are still financially tied.

Annulment

The most common reason people opt for an annulment is for religious reasons. Since many religions do not recognize or accept divorce, an annulment is their way to end their marriage and act as if it never happened. An annulment labels a marriage invalid and eliminates any legal recognition that you were once married. Illinois only allows couples to file for an annulment under the following few circumstances:

  1. Proper and full consent of the marriage was not given due to mental incapacity, influences of drugs or alcohol, or one or both parties were under duress or force to get married.
  2. Either party is incapable of consummating the marriage through sexual intercourse and the other party was unaware of this before getting married.
  3. Either party was under the age of 18 and did not have a legal guardian’s consent or judicial approval to get married.
  4. The marriage is prohibited.

If any of the following circumstances apply to the marriage, the union is considered invalid and may be dissolved with an annulment.

Divorce

Whether you would like to make your legal separation more permanent, do not qualify for an annulment, or simply know that divorce is right for you, this is the next step to legally end your marriage. You and your spouse will work with your respective attorneys to formulate an agreement that benefits both parties. If you and your partner have an amicable relationship, you may consider utilizing divorce mediation rather than litigation. This allows you and your spouse to work side-by-side to create your divorce agreement with a third-party mediator present.

Call a DuPage County Family Lawyer

Making the decision to end your marriage, by any of the aforementioned means, can be a difficult and emotional choice to make. This may be especially true if you are unsure of how you wish to proceed. The best way to discuss your options and narrow down which works best for you is to speak with an experienced family lawyer. At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we offer our clients seasoned legal professionals experienced in formulating legal separation and divorce agreements, creating annulment petitions, and offering alternative dispute resolution for those who prefer mediation. With over 40 years of experience, our firm has a reputation that speaks for itself. If you are considering ending your marriage, contact our Wheaton family attorneys at 630-665-2500 to discuss your options.

 

Sources:

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/legal-separation.asp

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=3000000&SeqEnd=3700000

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