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Legal Separation in Illinois - 3 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

By Joseph Dillon, Divorce Mediator

Perhaps you're not sure if divorce is right for you. So you're considering legal separation. And want to learn more about this often misunderstood process.

If you live in Illinois, or any other state that offers legal separation as an option, there are some things you'll want to know before choosing whether you should divorce or separate. Here now are answers to the three most commonly asked questions we hear with regards to legal separation in Illinois.

If We Are Legally Separated, Are We Still Married Under Illinois Law?

Since a legal separation looks a lot like a divorce, you may be wondering if you're still married.

After all, with both legal separation and divorce, you need to:

  • Determine the Child Custody and parenting plan
  • Calculate Child Support
  • Agree on a Maintenance amount, if applicable
  • Agree on the Equitable Distribution of your marital assets and liabilities; and
  • File your paperwork with the courts.

Given that the processes look nearly identical, some people think they're no longer married. But the truth is - yes, you are.

When getting a legal separation in Illinois, even thought you're in effect doing everything you'd need to do to get a divorce, there is one last step that's missing - the actual divorce.

Why could this be an issue?

  • If you want to get remarried, you'll need to go back to court and get an actual divorce.
  • Your spouse may be able to get credit in your name, make inquiries for sensitive information on your behalf and perform a host of other tasks you may not want them to do.
  • If you hold property jointly, your creditors may still regard you as both being liable and if your spouse were to default on a payment, you may be held responsible.

What Is The Process To Get a Legal Separation?

Much like with any divorce, the process is as follows:

  • Choose Your Professional - decide who you're going to use to help you with the negotiations necessary to get the legal separation. Many Illinois couples use a mediator to help them work through the complex issues that a divorce or legal separation brings.
  • Engage in Discovery - once you choose your mediator, you'll need to gather a myriad of financial documents to help the mediator help you decide what your legal separation should look like.
  • Negotiate - you, your spouse and the mediator will sit down and discuss all relevant issues to ensure your agreement is as complete and comprehensive as possible.
  • Drafting - once you've come to all needed agreements, your mediator will draft your legal separation documents.
  • Filing - you'll then proceed to the filing stage where you will let the courts know you want a legal separation.

Can I Stay on My Spouses' Health Insurance If We're Legally Separated?

Since the passing of "Obamacare" this has become a more complex question than can be explained in a blog post.

In some cases, since you're not technically divorced, you can remain on your spouses' health insurance as a married couple. This was a bigger concern before the Heath Care Marketplace was available to individuals and ex-spouses could not get affordable health insurance on their own.

Even though coverage is available to you, divorce and separation creates a host of additional expenses that establishing two households brings. So minimizing costs (and staying on a family plan for health care) may be a strategy you wish to pursue. I have heard of some companies that allow even divorced spouses to remain covered under their ex-spouses policy for a period of time so it's always best to check with your individual carrier.

No matter whether you're ready to file the divorce and go your separate ways or just want to get a legal separation and live apart for a period of time, mediation can help.

With mediation you can:

  • Craft an agreement you both find fair and equitable without involving attorneys;
  • Come to terms peacefully, efficiently and cost-effectively without going emotionally and financially bankrupt in the process; and
  • Take the time you need to consider whether going through with your full divorce is the right option for you without "being on the court clock."


Equitable Mediation specializes in helping divorcing couples negotiate a fair settlement and divorce peacefully and cost-effectively – without lawyers.

For more than 20 years, Equitable Mediation Founder and Divorce Mediator Joe Dillon has been helping individuals, couples and corporations mediate a myriad of complex issues and intractable problems by utilizing his expertise in negotiation, finance and interpersonal relationships.

For more than 20 years, Co-Founder, Divorce Coach and Co-mediator Cheryl Dillon has been employing her background in psychology, human resources and life coaching to help individuals overcome obstacles to achieve their goals and reach their fullest potential.

Joe and Cheryl are passionate about helping couples avoid the destruction of attorney-driven litigation and know first-hand that the right information, combined with the right expertise and the right kind of support can make the challenging process of divorce less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful for divorcing couples and their children.

Equitable Mediation serves clients in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York and California.

Joe and Cheryl can be contacted by phone at: (877) 732-6682 Visit Web Site Visit Blog


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