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DuPage County legal separation lawyerAlthough many couples are sure of their decision to end their marriage and go their separate ways, there are others that may not be quite so certain. Alternatively, there may be extenuating circumstances, such as religious beliefs or financial concerns, that can either rule out or complicate the traditional divorce process. If you are wondering whether legal separation may be a viable alternative in your situation, a qualified family lawyer can help you explore this question further and provide you with some details that could assist you with your decision.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

Some think that separation is like divorce. Others assume that it is the first step to divorce. Both beliefs may have an element of truth to them depending on the situation, but neither tells the whole story. Unlike divorce, legal separation does not break the legal marital bond. The spouses remain married, so neither party can remarry without a full, legal divorce. Separated spouses can pursue maintenance and child support, however, and they can seek a determination on the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time for any shared children. Additionally, legal separation is not a required step before divorce, nor does it always lead to divorce.

Why Choose Separation?

Since legal separation and divorce are different legal paths, and legal separation is not necessary for divorce, some may be confused as to the purpose of seeking a separation. Again, legal separation allows each party the ability to pursue certain forms of support, but it can do much more than just this. It can also give couples the space they need to work through their differences so they can reunite without ever having breached their marriage vows. Alternatively, legal separation can give spouses the time they need to decide if divorce may be the next step for them. It may also be used as an alternative to divorce if either party is strongly opposed to divorce, whether because of religious or moral values.

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DuPage County business asset divorce attorneyAmong the many issues that need to be decided during a divorce is how to divide the couple’s marital assets and debts in an equitable way between the two spouses. This usually involves the division of real estate property, furniture, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, and other items of value. However, when one spouse owns a business or the spouses own a business together, that business is also likely to be an asset for which ownership must be determined during a divorce.

Determining the Value of a Business

The first thing to understand is that both the rights to the business and the value of the business must be considered to determine whether it is a marital asset and how it will be handled during the property division process. Under Illinois law, a marital asset is an asset that is acquired by either spouse during the marriage, with limited exceptions. This generally includes a business that was started or acquired during the marriage.

There are different ways to value a business, including approaches based on market value, assets, and expected future earnings. Each of these methods may be used for different purposes, and you and your spouse may have trouble agreeing on the value of the business, so it is often a good idea to work with a professional business valuator and seek multiple valuations.

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Wheaton IL divorce mediation attorneyWhen you are getting a divorce, there are several ways to complete the process of dissolving your marriage. One way is through traditional litigation, which leaves the issues of the divorce to be decided by the court. You and your spouse could also attempt to negotiate the terms of your divorce on your own, or perhaps each with your own attorney providing guidance. However, many couples find that the process of mediation is the most efficient and effective divorce method. Before you decide how to proceed, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of mediation can help you choose the best option for your divorce.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

During divorce mediation, the two spouses discuss their unresolved issues in front of a mediator. A mediator is a third party who will aid divorcing spouses in conflict resolution. His or her job is to be a neutral advisor during the mediation process, helping to clarify misunderstandings and guiding the spouses toward making decisions. The mediator does not represent either spouse and therefore cannot provide either one with direct legal advice, but it is helpful to have a mediator who understands all of the legal complexities of the divorce process, including the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody), parenting time (visitation), and the division of assets.

Mediation Pros

Divorce mediation offers several potential benefits, including:

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Wheaton IL divorce lawyerDivorces can drag on for many months, if not longer. If proceedings stall, it can be difficult to get through the process alone. Men and women both face the temptation to date before they are officially divorced, even though this can lead to potential problems with their ex-spouses. There are positives, such as companionship during what can be a trying time, but the social and financial negatives tend to outweigh them. In fact, many divorce attorneys will advise you to wait before beginning a new relationship.

Spouse and Child-Related Issues

Despite your best intentions, it can seem like a slap in the face to your ex-spouse if you cannot wait to date a new person until after the divorce is concluded. While in theory, it has ceased to be their business, in practice, a jealous or bitter ex-spouse can drag out proceedings, costing you significant time in court and money in attorneys’ fees. While there are limits as to what a party can do to hold up the process without facing potential sanctions, it is very possible for a divorce to drag on exclusively due to one party’s intransigence.

Dating during your divorce can also affect your children, especially if your new partner is very different from your former spouse. Child psychologists urge maintaining a routine for children during divorce, especially younger children, and seeing their parent with someone new is the antithesis of routine for many. Depending on the nature of the relationship, it may even provoke a response from your ex-spouse if your children experience adverse reactions. It is possible that your parenting time or the amount of parental responsibilities you are granted will be affected by introducing a new person into your children’s lives, especially if that person may be considered unsafe, perhaps due to past criminal convictions on their record. 

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Wheaton parenting plan lawyerWhile most parents recognize that it is important they get along and work together to raise their children, many struggle with this concept after a divorce. Even a few moments with their ex may spark feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, sadness, or guilt. When those feelings lead to an argument, children can begin to feel as though they are responsible for the continued conflict, which may be the exact opposite of what caring, loving parents want. In these situations, parallel parenting may be a viable alternative.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

Parallel parenting seeks to reduce conflict between parents by encouraging disengagement between parents, rather than engagement. Each parent works independently toward the best interest of their child, focusing solely on their personal relationship with the child. No ill words are spoken about the other parent around the child, each household is run as each parent sees fit, and there is very little contact between the adults. Success in this parenting method relies upon the respect for one another’s boundaries and privacy. As such, a comprehensive plan should be developed, generally with the assistance of a skilled legal professional, such as a family law attorney.

Tips for Implementing a Parallel Parenting Plan

In a parallel parenting plan, parents should avoid contact as much as possible. Parallel parenting would not be necessary if the parents got along well with one another. Of course, they still have children to raise together, and that requires at least some level of communication. Preferably, this communication should take place through email, text messages, or another form of written communication. However, when there is a need to discuss matters in person, some basic boundaries may be able to help you avoid unnecessary conflict. Ideas could include:

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