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Do We Need to Be Separated Before We Can Get Divorced?

 Posted on February 21, 2018 in Divorce

Naperville divorce attorneyNearly all of us know at least one person who would describe his or her relationship status as “separated.” In everyday language, we generally take that to mean that the person is legally married but no longer living in the same home as his or her spouse. The situation may be a “trial separation” or the first action taken on the road toward a divorce. This type of an arrangement occurs so frequently that many people actually believe that separating is a prerequisite for a divorce. Such is no longer the case, at least for those who plan to get divorced in Illinois.

Proper Terminology

It is important, first of all, to understand that the Illinois statutes that govern divorce legally recognize just one type of separation. A legal separation is a formal declaration that is similar to divorce in most aspects, except that it leaves the spouses still married to one another. It is sometimes used by those who are morally or religiously opposed to divorce, as well as those whose divorce is expected to drag on for months or years. This is not what most people mean when they say they are separated.

What the average person calls a “separation” the law in Illinois refers to as “living separate and apart.” In most cases, this involves the spouses living in separate homes and no longer acting as a married couple. It is possible for a couple to be considered living separate and apart while remaining under the same roof, but such cases are fairly uncommon.

Separation and No-Fault Divorce

On January 1, 2016, sweeping changes to Illinois divorce laws eliminated all fault grounds for divorce in the state. The amended law also got rid of the requirement for a couple seeking a no-fault divorce to live separate and apart. Prior to the update, a couple could be forced to live separately for up to two years before the divorce could proceed.

Today, spouses who agree that their marriage has broken down beyond repair can file for divorce without living a single day separate and apart. If the spouses do not agree, the court will accept a six-month separation period as proof of irreconcilable differences. In practice, of course, most couples still live separately for some time before their divorce, but it is important to understand that the law no longer requires them to do so in most cases.

Call Us for Help

If you are considering a divorce and have questions about the process, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-352-2240 for a free consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. today. We will help you find the answers you need as you seek a better future for yourself and your family.


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