What is a legal separation?

A legal separation is a formal court proceeding whereby the court will grant a decree for legal separation.

Contrary to popular misunderstanding, it is not the period of time from the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage through the entry of the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. A separation proceeding can only be filed by a spouse who is living separate and apart from his or her spouse without fault. Legal separations in Illinois are infrequently used. However, they are occasionally filed by:

  1. People attempting to protect their respective assets from the other's creditors because once the legal separation is granted, bills incurred by one spouse are not the liability of the other spouse,
  2. People who cannot get a divorce for religious reasons, and
  3. People with an extended medical condition who would not be able to maintain or afford medical insurance on a long term basis after a divorce.