separationWhen their marital relationship breaks down and spouses are looking at options for ending the marriage, most will immediately turn their thoughts to divorce. What you may not realize is that legal separation could be a route to consider, depending on your situation and objectives.


The concept once referred to the period of time a couple lived apart before divorcing, which is why there is some confusion about separation. Additional misunderstandings arise because the relevant statutory sections fall under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, even though the statute on legal separation does not legally end your status as a married couple.


Once you set aside some of the misperceptions about separation, you might find that it is a good fit for your circumstances. A divorce lawyer in Chicago can clear up confusion and provide details that help you make informed decisions, but an overview of the law regarding separation in Illinois is helpful.


Comparing Separation to Illinois Divorce

Legally separating from your spouse does not end your marriage, but it does somewhat alter your status in the eyes of the law. You might better understand how the process works by reviewing some key points:


  • The statute creates an official legal remedy that you must take advantage of by filing appropriate documents in court.
  • The remedy known as legal separation exists for purposes of reasonable support and maintenance of the parties while they live apart, and there is no time limitation on how long it can last.
  • Like divorce, parties can negotiate an agreement on how to handle the division of marital assets and spousal support. They can also include provisions on allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time for minor children, though the arrangement will be subject to Illinois law on the child’s best interests.

Reasons to Consider Legal Separation as Opposed to Divorce 

Because separation does not dissolve your marriage, you might wonder what circumstances might lead you to consider it. A few reasons you might opt to go forward with legal separation include:


  • Many health insurance policies would be discontinued by divorce while separating from your spouse could still make you eligible for coverage.
  • Parties with certain religious beliefs may not want to seek a divorce, so they can live independently without violating these values.
  • If legally separated, a spouse may be able to access the other’s military benefits, Social Security, and other programs.
  • Separation is a way to “test the waters” for divorce since the parties can still move forward with dissolution.
  • With an appropriate separation agreement in place, parents can establish a stable environment for children while they consider divorce.

Consult with a Divorce Lawyer in Chicago for Details on Separation

If you believe legal separation may be an option for resolving your marital situation, please call Michael C. Craven to learn the specifics and how the laws apply. Alternatively, our team can also provide details on dissolution proceedings if this overview has convinced you to end your marriage. You can contact Chicago divorce attorney Michael C. Craven by calling (312) 621-5234 or visiting us online.

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