Chicago Legal Separation: The Chicago Family Law Blog

The Chicago Family Law Blog

Legal Separation in Chicago

A husband and wife who have decided to live apart, either as a precursor to a divorce or as a “cooling off” period, may choose to pursue a legal separation. Unlike divorce, separation does not involve the division of marital property, a determination of child custody or anything else that could be construed as a final dissolution of the marriage. Similar to divorce, a legal separation often involves temporary alimony and child support payments (if applicable). While husbands and wives don’t need the court’s blessing to live apart, a legal separation achieved through court order spells out the specific terms of the separation and can make the divorce process much smoother.

Couples that decide they want to get back together should dismiss any legal separation ordered by the court. While a legal separation is not as complex as a divorce, it often makes sense to consult the services of an Illinois family lawyer.


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What Should You Know About Getting a Legal Separation In Illinois?

What should you know about getting a legal separation in Illinois? First off, what is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce in the state? Because, while many components may appear the same, there are still some very crucial differences between the two.

A legal separation, for one, doesn't dissolve the marriage, whereas a divorce does. In other words, a couple who is legally separated can resume their marriage if they reconcile, while a divorced couple who decides they want to be together again would have to re-marry.

If a legal separation is the option you want to pursue, here are some things that you should know:

Considering Divorce? Think About Legal Separation

Marriages end for a variety of reasons, and when they do most people immediately think about divorce. But there's also the option of a legal separation.

By legal separation we don't mean the idea of taking some time apart to see how things go. That's what most couples do before they actually file for divorce.

A legal separation is a more permanent arrangement. It's what happens when people decide the romance in their marriage is over, but have reasons for not wanting a divorce. What reasons are there for staying legally married when you don't want to be together?

Annulment of Marriage in Illinois

We had earlier written about divorce in Illinois. And so now you know that it's not that easy. At the minimum you have to live apart for six months if you don't have a specific grounds to seek divorce, and in this case, both partners would need to agree. Otherwise, you have to wait two years.

However, some couples can seek to invalidate the marriage, thereby making the marriage invalid from the very start (negating the need for a divorce). Annulment of marriage in Illinois can be complicated and there are specific requirements for who can declare their marriage invalid and when.

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.