Legal Separation

A legal separation is different from a divorce in that the couple actually remains legally married but they are permitted to live separately while they work out their problems at a distance. A legal separation is not the same as divorce because the marriage does not formally end. Some people choose the route of legal separation for religious reasons, others feel that it will be easier on the children. Legal separation is especially recommended to couples if one spouse has been physically abusive to the other. In order to obtain a legal separation, you must file a formal petition with the court and have it approved by a judge.

In cases of this nature, there still needs to be a formal agreement written that discusses the issues of child custody, child support, spousal support and visitation. The judge will then review the agreement to ensure that it is fair before it is approved. If you and your spouse are not able to come to an agreement on all of these matters, then the court will decide them on your behalf. The judge will also ultimately decide who will be permitted to use the marital residence.

In order to obtain a legal separation in the state of Illinois, there are several requirements that must be met. The requirements are as follows:

  • The parties must be living separate at the time the court action is initiated
  • The spouse seeking the separation must prove that they are not at fault & did not cause the separation
  • You must have resided in Illinois for more than 90 days
  • You must serve your spouse with proper notice of the separation lawsuit

With legal separation cases, you do not have to prove fault or blame of the other party. When you do obtain a legal separation, it is important to remember that it does not give you grounds to marry someone else because you are still legally married.

A legal separation is seen as a lawsuit in the state of Illinois. The spouse seeking the legal separation must file a petition with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The petition must state the two parties are indeed living separate and that the petitioner is not the cause of the separation. Once the petition is filed, a sheriff’s deputy must deliver a copy of it along with a summons to the other spouse. The other marriage partner can then file an answer response to the petition and put up defenses against the separation if they so desire. When the case goes to court, it will be heard by a judge who will ultimately determine the issues at hand. If the parties have drafted a separation agreement already, then the judge just needs to approve it.