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Chicago Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Legal Separation > Separation in Chicago: Key Differences Between Separation in a Marriage and Separation Without Marriage You Need to Know

Separation in Chicago: Key Differences Between Separation in a Marriage and Separation Without Marriage You Need to Know


Often when Chicago residents hear the term “separation” in the context of a romantic relationship or partnership they assume that the individuals subject to the separation were married in the first place. The reality is, however, that separation may occur between partners, significant others, or parties, regardless of whether there was a marriage or not. Indeed, separation can occur when an unmarried couple decides to split, just as it can for a married couple when they decide to initially part ways before a divorce. There are major differences, however, between separations with marriage and separations without marriage that cannot be overlooked. In order to help Chicagoans better understand these differences, we provide the following guidance.

Separation without A Marriage in the First Place: Key Nuances

When a couple separates without being married, one of the key differences is that there is no formal legal process like there is when a married couple legally separates. Since there was no marriage in the first place, there is no “marriage contract” and the couple is not bound by the legal institution of a marriage contract. Therefore, significantly, a couple can simply choose to part ways and discontinue the relationship and cohabitation. Accordingly, certain legal entitlements in a legal separation, like spousal maintenance (also called “alimony”), are not available in a separation without marriage. Other rights may be impacted, such as rights to health insurance. Finally, issues of pet custody and child custody must be addressed in separate agreements, and child custody agreements may require establishing paternity of the child.

Separation in a Chicago Marriage

Illinois state law recognizes the process of legal separation for couples that were married to begin with. Legal separation agreements, which may be implemented prior to divorce, may be utilized to address important marriage and divorce issues such as child custody, pet custody, division of property, and spousal maintenance. Entitlement to certain benefits during a marriage, such as health insurance benefits may be impacted, but it is also possible that a spouse may continue to be eligible to receive health insurance benefits under the other spouse’s plan until a formal decree of dissolution of marriage is issued by the court of jurisdiction.

Legal Help for Couples and Individuals Seeking to Separate in Chicago

There are other important differences and nuances between separations with marriage and separations without marriage in Chicago. On top of that, every case is unique, so it is best to speak with an experienced Chicago legal separation lawyer about your individual situation as soon as possible if you are seeking separation from your significant other or spouse in Chicago.

The experienced Chicago legal separation lawyers at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC, are here to help Chicago couples and individuals learn about their rights when it comes to separation, whether or not they have been married in the first place. If you are seeking a separation in Chicago contact Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC, and learn about your rights and options today.

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