By the time most people come into my door to talk about potentially divorcing their spouse, their mind has been made up and nothing I can say will dissuade them from seeking a divorce. That’s fine, but you nevertheless ask yourself if divorce is right for you.
You do not need to file divorce to get child support or spousal support.
Your husband or wife occasionally walks out and refuses to care for you or your children. If child support or spousal support is all you need, you do not have to file for divorce. There are a number of options to compel your spouse to pay child support including, for example a proceeding under the Illinois Non-Support Punishment Act, 750 ILCS 16/1, et seq., can get you the child support or spousal support you need. Best of all, these proceedings are initiated by your county’s State’s Attorney’s Office at no cost to you. Rather than paying for a lawyer for a divorce that you otherwise may not want, it may be helpful to give the State’s Attorney a call first.
Divorce will not give you immediate relief from domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a truly horrible thing. If your spouse is abusing you mentally or physically, divorce may be an appropriate solution, but if you want immediate protection and safety, you should come talk to me about an Order of Protection.
Have you considered marriage counseling?
If you think you can work things out with your spouse, and if you are not in danger by living with your spouse, marriage counseling could be worthwhile. Communication solves many marital problems, and I wholeheartedly encourage everyone seeking a divorce to give it a shot.
Legal separation is usually a bad choice.
Illinois law permits legal separation from spouses. See 750 ILCS 5/402. I generally do not recommend legal separation to my clients for a couple of reasons. If you think legal separation will help heal your marriage, I doubt it. Communicating with your spouse does much more to help resolve your issues than merely being absent. If you move out of the house during a separation, you can expect the amount of communication with your spouse to decrease, not increase. Further, there are almost no benefits from a legal standpoint to legal separation. Separation has mechanisms to provide for spousal maintenance and child support, but so does divorce. And if or when your separation ripens into a divorce, you will still have to jump through all the legal hurdles for your divorce.