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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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.