It is not uncommon for couples to separate before they divorce, which often means living under separate roofs and leading separate lives until they start the divorce process.
A question that comes up frequently from separated couples is whether their financial activities during the separation period will affect property division in a divorce. For example, if one spouse runs up a credit card before the divorce, will both spouses be responsible for the debt? Or, if a spouse wants to buy a home during the separation, will the other spouse be entitled to equity in the future?
Generally speaking, if you do not file for divorce or a legal separation, you may be responsible for marital debt acquired, or subject to the division of property obtained, during an informal separation. The best and safest option is to obtain a final divorce decree or a legal separation agreement, which will set in stone the date when the accumulation of debt is considered “separate” and the acquirement of assets are not part of the marital estate.
It is important to consult with an experienced Illinois family law attorney if you are considering a separation, even if you are doing so as a temporary measure, i.e., trial basis, to protect yourself financially. If you are not ready to divorce, you may want to consider a “legal separation” in the event that you and your spouse do not reconcile to ensure that the independent financial activities of either spouse do not impact property division in a divorce. Contact the family law offices of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for more information at 847-680-4970.