There is a good deal of confusion and misinformation surrounding the concept of legal separation in Illinois. Many people use the word “separated” to refer to a temporary break from a spouse. Others use the word to refer to a permanent situation in which the spouses live separately. However, neither of these situations necessarily constitutes a legal separation.
A married couple who has legally separated benefits from specific legal protections under Illinois law. Being separated does not end a marriage, but it does allow the spouses to address many of the same types of issues that they would address during a divorce.
What is a Legal Separation?
A legal separation is a binding agreement between two spouses. The spouses agree to live apart from each other and to separate their finances and everyday lives. Couples who are legally separated are still married and still enjoy certain benefits that come with a marriage relationship, such as inheritance rights. They cannot marry somebody else. Unlike a divorce, a legal separation is not necessarily permanent. If a legally separated couple reconciles, they are able to vacate the separation and resume their married lives together.
What are the Benefits of Legal Separation?
Securing a legal separation allows spouses to put certain protections in place and address important issues, including:
- The division of marital property and debt
- The allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time
- Child support
- Alimony or spousal maintenance
Legal separation is not terribly common, but it can be useful in certain situations. For example, some people have personal beliefs or religions that prohibit divorce. In a situation like this, a legal separation would allow the spouses to separate their finances, address child custody issues, and live separately while keeping the legal marriage relationship intact.
Legal separation may also be used to separate from a spouse without losing access to health insurance benefits through the spouse or tax advantages associated with marriage.
How Can You Get Legally Separated in Illinois?
To get legally separated in Illinois, you will follow a similar procedure as you would if you filed for divorce. First, you will file a petition for separation with the Circuit Court. Your spouse will receive a copy of the petition as well as a summons to appear in court. Your spouse will have the opportunity to respond to your petition and any of the proposed separation terms. Next, you and your spouse will negotiate the terms of property division, child custody, and other essential matters. These agreements will be formalized via a separation agreement.
Contact our Kane County Separation and Divorce Lawyers
There are some circumstances in which legal separation may be preferred to divorce. To discuss your unique situation and needs, contact our St. Charles divorce attorneys. Call [[phone]] for a free consultation.