legal separation in Illinois begins with a lawsuit requesting the Court for a change in legal status from “married” to “legally separated”. For this lawsuit to be initiated, the filing individual must reside in the State of Illinois for no less than 90 days, and the action should be filed in the county where either of the spouses resides. Furthermore, the spouses will need to be living in separate homes. This meets the statutory requirements for the Illinois Court to have jurisdiction and grant the separation action. An Illinois legal separation should not be confused with a physical separation. While the spouses may be living in separate locations, a physical separation is not the same as a legal change in marital status.

A legal separation is a separate action than a divorce as it does not dissolve the marriage. The Courts treat legal separation differently than a divorce, particularly in rulings on child custody, child support and maintenance issues. For a legal separation to be final, it must be issued by a judge and will contain the language regarding marital debt, child support and custody and maintenance.