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What is Considered Legally Separated in Illinois?

When it seems to spouses that their relationship is irreconcilable, most opt for the straightforward option: filing for a divorce. But what if you don’t want to opt for something this final?

The gray area between continuing your relationship and filing for divorce means opting for legal separation in Illinois. 

What is considered legally separated in Illinois? In Illinois, you are legally separated when a court enters an order finding that you are living separate and apart through no fault of your own.

So what does this mean for you and your spouse?

Read on to learn more about legal separation and whether it’s right for your situation.

What Is Legal Separation In Illinois?

In Illinois, legal separation is court approval for couples to live separately and apart from one another. This means marriage termination doesn’t occur, and the spouses cannot remarry unless they go through the process of getting a divorce. 

In a legal separation, the couple gets a judgment from the court that states the new legal status of their separation.

Just like a divorce, a legal separation resolves some of the issues that arise from divorce, such as child support and spousal support. However, a legal separation does not resolve or finalize matters relating to division of property and allocation of debts.

Understanding the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce

Put simply, legal separation means living apart from each other with some involvement of the court.

When there is a court order relating to the separation of the parties, the separation becomes a “Legal Separation”.

There are some similarities between divorce and legal separation.

  • Both processes begin when one spouse files a petition with the court requesting its intervention; and
  • Both allow the court to resolve outstanding issues, like:
    • Custody, (Parenting Time and Decision-Making).
    • Child Support
    • Spousal Support

The difference is that divorce resolves all matters relating to the marriage and allows the people involved to remarry.

On the other hand, in a legal separation both people continue their lives separate and apart. Neither of them can remarry unless there is a subsequent divorce. 

Here’s a good way to look at it: divorce is legal and permanent, whereas legal separation is a temporary break-up before possible reconciliation or divorce. 

What’s the difference between legal separation and simply not living with your spouse? 

In a legal separation the court addresses issues such as spousal maintenance or child support, which is different than merely physically living away from your partner without any court orders.

Why Choose Legal Separation?

It’s no secret: divorces can be stressful, anxiety-striking, and outright messy. In instances where the problem between you and your spouse may be resolved, getting a divorce can feel extreme and unnecessary.

That’s where legal separation may come into the picture.

Other reasons to get a legal separation in Illinois could include:

  • You believe reconciliation in the future is possible between you and your partner
  • You want to use separation as a trial run
  • You want to avoid the social stigma that comes with getting a divorce
  • Certain cultural or religious beliefs are stopping you from filing for a divorce
  • You want to create a stable and happy environment for your children before getting a divorce 
  • You want to retain the benefits that come with being married, such as health insurance, security, or pension
  • You need some space to think before coming to a final decision

How Does Legal Separation Work in Illinois?

To start the process of legal separation, one spouse needs to file a separation petition. 

There are two requirements for filing:

  1. The first is that at least one of the parties must live in Illinois.
  2. The second is that you and your partner must be living apart before filing for the legal separation.

Your request must include all relevant information, such as:

  • Spouse’s age
  • Occupation 
  • Residence (address)
  • The date of the marriage
  • The date of the separation
  • Whether you have children together

Just like in a divorce, you’ll need to give the court legal reasons for your requests. The couple can try to work out the terms of the separation. This may include child support, spousal support, and child custody. Once the court approves an agreement, you’ll be bound by it. 

Hiring an Attorney for the Separation Process and Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal, binding contract written and signed by the parties. This agreement is written to address the terms and conditions of the separation. 

Since this is a complex and detailed document, it’s best to consult an attorney. 

Whether you want to hire an attorney is up to you. The laws governing legal separation are always changing, which is why we recommend retaining the services of Illinois family attorneys you can trust.

Contact an Attorney at Diamond Divorce Law Today

At Diamond Divorce Law, we’ve helped hundreds of clients navigate the divorce process, custody battles, and other family law issues.

Our process is streamlined, informative, communicative, and produces the best possible outcome for you, your children, and your finances.

Allow us to take the burden off your shoulder and help you choose the best option for you and your spouse. Contact us today.

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