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Illinois Legal Separation
Legal Separation in Illinois

Illinois permits legal separation, but they are an option in Illinois, but they are seldom used.

In Illinois legal separation is a court-approved regime by which separated spouses agree to live independent of each other both physically and financially. A legal separation does not terminate the marriage. The spouses are still married and they may not remarry unless they first divorce. The separated couple must obtain a judgment from the court stating the new legal status of separation as well as the terms and conditions of the routine. A divorce resolves all issues arising out of the marital relationship, including division of assets and debts as well as child custody, parenting time and support, and terminates the marriage; a legal separation deals with the same issues without ending the marriage.

A legal separation, however, does not necessarily prohibit either spouse from filing for divorce later.

Under Illinois law, a legal separation allows a spouse who is without fault to receive reasonable support and maintenance while the parties live apart. This is not necessarily the case with a divorce.

In order for the court to declare a couple legally separated, certain conditions must be met. First, the couple must live physically separate from one other. Second, the petitioner must prove he or she is not the reason for the separation. Third, at least one spouse must be a resident of Illinois for the court to have jurisdiction.

The separating couple may write a marital separation agreement that the judge of the Circuit Court approves. The agreement addresses the terms and conditions of the separation, including child custody and support, alimony and division of assets and debts. The court decides if the agreement is fair and reasonable to both spouses.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.


The spouse must submit a petition for a legal separation and a summons.


A party filing for a legal separation is not bound by Illinoiss residency requirements. A spouse who is separated without fault may file a Petition for Legal Separation and acquire the same legal remedies available to one who files for divorce. This petition may be filed in the other spouse's county of residence or in the county where the petitioner lives if the other spouse cannot be found.


First, the petitioner files for separation in the Circuit Court in the county where one of the spouses resides. A sheriff's deputy serves a copy of the filed petition and a summons to appear in court to the respondent who is allowed to respond by filing an answer to the petition stating any defenses relevant. At a hearing, the judge reviews all issues; then he or she decides whether or not to grant the legal separation.

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