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The Myth of Legal Separation

I’m getting divorced, when does my “legal separation” take place?

Answer: Contrary to what many seem to believe, a legal separation is not the first step of the divorce process. It is not something that is a routine part of divorce.

While many divorcing spouses do in fact separate before and after filing for divorce, this type of separation has no name. It is just a separation and should not be confused with a legal separation, which is its own type of case and really has very little to do with divorce.

It seems that “Legal Separation” is quite commonly misunderstood. It is not a legal label for a relationship in which the parties choose not to live together while considering divorce. It is not a designation for the legal state that you are in while you are waiting for your divorce to become final. And, it is not intended as a quick way of showing your spouse you “mean business” or as a “stepping stone” to divorce.

LEGAL SEPARATION PROVIDES LIMITED RELIEF AND IS RECOMMENDED ONLY IN CERTAIN, UNIQUE INSTANCES.

In fact, Legal Separation is simply the name of a case. It is a distinct cause of action that can be brought to compel payments of reasonable support or maintenance from a spouse who won’t pay voluntarily. To qualify, you must already be separated, without fault on your part. The procedures of this type of case are almost identical to those of divorce and the costs are about the same. A Judgment for Legal Separation will ultimately be entered but the court cannot divide ownership of the marital assets (unless both parties agree to do so). A judgment for Legal Separation will not dissolve the marriage. Legal Separation provides limited relief and is recommended only in certain, unique instances.

IT SEEMS THAT ONLY LAWYERS REALLY KNOW WHAT A LEGAL SEPARATION IS.

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Richard and Kari are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 60 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook, DuPage, and Will counties.

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