The Chicago Family Law Blog

Legal Separation: Not Quite Divorce

Sometimes married couples just need a little time apart when they are not sure whether or not they ultimately would like to end the union. The process of a legal separation can help insure that each party continues to do their part to maintain the family structure, as explained by the Chicago Bar Association (CBA).

CBA describes legal separation as follows:

Legal separation is a formal arrangement set forth in an order or judgment approved by a judge. The order or judgment will set forth rules under which a husband and wife may legally live apart and will detail the responsibilities and obligations of each.

It is not necessary to hire an Illinois family lawyer, but it is advised for anyone with additional questions or special circumstances.

Legal separation is not required for husbands and wives to live apart, but the process puts in place a legal framework for spousal or child support, use of the marital residence and other property, custody and visitation rights, and other related matters. Since it is not a dissolution of marriage, CBA states that the judge ordinarily does not award title or property to either party.

But before a judge will even consider granting a legal separation, partners must already be living apart from one another and the individual asking for the separation must be able to show that he or she is not "at fault in causing the separation," according to CBA's guide to the procedure.

Also, it's important to remember that neither partner may claim any property acquired by the other after the date of separation in the event of a later divorce, according to the Chicago Bar. For more information, please visit our Related Resources links.

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