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Chicago Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Legal Separation > Divorce vs. Separation: 3 Potentially Surprising Differences When It Comes to Splitting Up

Divorce vs. Separation: 3 Potentially Surprising Differences When It Comes to Splitting Up


In Chicago, most people know the basics of the legal divorce process: a couple who was married and who no longer wants to be married files a case in court in order to legally “dissolve” the marriage. What is likely less well-known, however, among Chicagoans, is the difference between the legal divorce process and the process by which couples who were never married split, called “separation.” In order to help Chicago couples better understand the divorce process and the separation process in Chicago, we put together a list of three potentially surprising differences you need to know.

#1. A Couple’s Legal Status is Different When it Comes to Separation and Divorce

In order for a couple to get a divorce in Chicago, they must have been legally married to begin with. Accordingly, couples who were never married to begin with cannot get legally divorced. Instead, couples who wish to part ways but who were never married are subject to the separation process in Chicago. This process is perhaps more similar to ending an agreement to cohabitate than it is to the Chicago divorce process.

#2.  The Division of Property in a Separation May be Less Structured

Under Illinois marriage and family laws, courts must follow the established legal framework when determining who-gets-what when it comes to property subject to the marriage. In a Chicago separation where the couple was never married, this legal framework does not apply, and couples may find resolution of property division matters through negotiation or mediation, or some other form of dispute resolution.

#3. There May be Less to Unravel When Determining Health Insurance Benefits

Health insurance benefits are often tied to marriage, which often results in a change or impact on benefits when a couple gets divorced. However, in the case of separation where a couple was never married, typically each person has their own individual health insurance plan that is not tied to the couple, and health insurance benefits are not impacted. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and in order to determine any impacts to your health insurance coverage if you are seeking a separation, it is best to chat with an experienced Chicago separation lawyer.

Help with Your Separation in Chicago

There are, of course, a number of similarities between the Chicago divorce process and the Chicago separation process. For example, in both cases, once a couple is legally divorced or separated, they are free to remarry (or marry for the first time). In addition, child support issues may need to be determined in both cases, if there were children born in the relationship or marriage.

Whether you are considering a separation or a divorce in Chicago, it is best to have effective and experienced representation by your side. If you are in Chicago and you are seeking a separation, contact the experienced Chicago separation lawyers at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC. The experienced Chicago separation lawyers at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC are here to listen to your unique story and to see if they can help you get benefits due. Contact the law offices of Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC and speak to an experienced Chicago separation lawyer about your case today.

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