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Do I Need to Be Separated Before Filing for Divorce in Illinois?

Posted on in Divorce

Kendall County family law attorney legal separation

If you and your spouse are considering filing for divorce, it is unlikely a rash decision. Most couples will notice their relationship falling apart for months, or even years, before bringing up the idea of divorce. Couples will then typically live apart, also known as separation, for a period of time before deciding that divorce is the proper next step. Living separately for an extended period of time can be a good idea before filing for divorce, and some couples may choose to become legally separated as well. This will allow both you and your spouse to fully consider your options and truly understand what life would be like without your spouse. But what about those who cannot financially afford to move out on their own? Is separation required before filing for divorce in Illinois?

Irreconcilable Differences

Depending on the state that you live in, you may need to provide a reason or form of proof for ending your marriage, such as infidelity. Illinois only allows couples to file for divorce due to “irreconcilable differences.” In other words, you do not have to give a specific cause for your ending relationship other than stating that your marriage has broken down beyond repair. Before 2016, Illinois law required couples to live separate and apart for two years before a divorce could be an option. If the couples agreed that they faced irreconcilable differences after six months of living separately, this two-year separation term could be reduced to just those six months.

Since the law changed in 2016, married couples are no longer required to live apart for a specific period of time before being able to file for divorce. Couples who wish to pursue a divorce are legally able to on the ground of irreconcilable differences, regardless of their decision to separate before signing their divorce papers. These changes are beneficial for a number of reasons, especially for those who are in abusive relationships and know that divorce is in their future as well as individuals who would financially struggle to afford their own home without an official divorce agreement put in place. 

What About Legal Separation?

The term legal separation and living separately are not one and the same. The state of Illinois does not require a legal separation or for couples to live separately before signing divorce papers, but both can be advantageous for your future. A legal separation is similar to a divorce agreement in a number of ways, as it can allot spousal support payments from one spouse to another or determine parenting time arrangements. Those who choose to live separately before filing for divorce are not considered legally separated. Couples who have a legal separation in place are still considered legally married, and often use this legal document as the initial step toward divorce. Couples may decide to remain legally separated for religious, financial, or cultural reasons. 

Contact a Kane County Legal Separation Attorney

Some couples will choose to become legally separated to ensure that they have a legally binding contract regarding the details of their separation, while others may choose to remain legally separated indefinitely. Whatever your decision, Emily Rapp at McSwain Nagle Giese & Rapp, P.C. is here to help. Our reputable attorneys can assist you with pursuing legal separation, transforming your legal separation agreement into a divorce agreement, and any other family law matters. We pride ourselves on providing cost-effective legal services that help you achieve your desired outcome. For more information, call our dedicated Naperville family lawyers at 630-402-0185 to schedule your free consultation.



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