Many Illinois divorce attorneys are seeing an increasing number of couples whose marriages have failed getting caught in so-called separation limbo. They are living apart without making anything official and in no apparent hurry to begin divorce proceedings.
A couple can begin living apart on a temporary basis, but in some cases years pass and the situation seems to become permanent. Other couples simply drift apart, making divorce an option both parties are ambivalent about. While these situations seem understandable, long-term separation can be a bad idea in the long run. It can have substantial financial implications, and advisers counsel against it for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the husband or wife is hiding assets or planning to relocate. The alimony laws can also change in the state of residence during the period of separation. One or both parties may meet someone new, making divorce negotiations all the more difficult. A spouse’s standard of living may change dramatically, making it more difficult to obtain alimony based upon his or her previous lifestyle.
Depending upon state law, if a person gets into financial trouble the spouse can still be held legally responsible no matter how long the couple has been living apart. A separated spouse will likely have no control over the other spouse is handling marital assets.
Divorce is an important decision, and a spouse who separated may wish to speak with an attorney with experience in family law. The attorney may be able to help negotiate and draft agreements relating to property division and spousal support. If the marriage produced children, the attorney may be able to provide advice and counsel relating to child custody and support matters.
Source: Forbes, “Putting Off Divorce? Ten Ways Long-term Separations Can Do Women More Harm Than Good“, Jeff Landers, October 03, 2013