Parties often mistakenly believe that they must obtain a legal separation in order to be “separated” from their spouse. In Illinois, divorcing parties do not have to obtain a legal separation prior to being able to divorce. Likewise, divorcing parties in Illinois do not have to obtain a legal separation in order to be “separated” from their spouse for the requisite two (2) year waiting period.
Legal separations are useful in many situations rather than obtaining dissolution of marriage. Some parties choose to obtain a legal separation when they want to keep their health insurance benefits. Other parties choose a legal separation when they don’t want to live with their spouse as husband and wife any longer, but cannot divorce due to religious reasons. Other parties choose a separation because they are uncertain whether or not they want to ever divorce, but wish to have an order in place that deals with spousal support or child support during their separation. (Note that you don’t necessarily need a legal separation for a support order, you can also obtain a temporary support order in a case where a divorce is pending). There are many reasons for obtaining a legal separation, but choosing between whether or not to seek dissolution of your marriage versus a legal separation is what usually confuses parties in Illinois.
Overall, if you think there is any chance that you would want to remain married to your spouse long term, and do not wish to seek a legal dissolution of your marriage, a legal separation may be the answer. Typically if parties know they will want to divorce in the future, a legal separation is not the right tool to utilize. If you are thinking of obtaining a legal separation or a dissolution of marriage and are not certain which one to utilize, call our offices to set up a consultation.