FAQs



Divorce and Legal Separation
  1. WHAT IS DIVORCE?

    Divorce, now known in Illinois as "Dissolution of Marriage", is a legal method of ending a valid, recognized marriage. Divorce can only be obtained in Illinois by filing a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" in court, and testifying as to the legal grounds for the divorce.

  2. ARE THERE OTHER LEGAL OPTIONS BESIDES DIVORCE?

    Yes. Married persons can obtain a legal separation (formerly known as "separate maintenance") or enter into a legal separation agreement. If the marriage is not valid, an annulment, known legally as a "Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage" can be obtained. Of course, marital and family counseling may be more appropriate, depending upon the circumstances.

  3. WHAT IS THE LEGAL EFFECT OF A DIVORCE?

    A divorce ends a valid marriage, and the parties become single once again. In addition, through the divorce process, spousal and child support, custody of children, visitation rights and property ownership are decided as to the parties. The court retains supervision to assure that the terms of the divorce or legal separation decree or agreement are being met.

  4. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DIVORCE AND A LEGAL SEPARATION?

    The process of obtaining a divorce or a legal separation is nearly identical. Grounds must be proven in court and support and custody rights may be determined. With a legal separation, however, the parties remain legally married. This may be advantageous for moral, personal or economic reasons. To obtain a legal separation, the parties must be living apart. Division of marital property such as real estate in joint tenancy, may not be made by the court; however, without the consent of the parties.

  5. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OR DISADVANTAGES OF A SEPARATION AGREEMENT?

    An Agreement to separate and live apart avoids all court proceedings and can include resolution of support, custody and property rights. However, such agreements are difficult to work out without the threat of court action if the parties are not fully cooperative. In addition, they cannot be enforced without court action, should either of the parties disobey the Agreement. One main advantage of legal separation is that health insurance can be provided for an ailing spouse.

  6. IF I PETITION FOR A LEGAL SEPARATION, CAN MY SPOUSE PETITION FOR DIVORCE?

    Yes. Despite your objections to being divorced, if you sue for a legal separation, your spouse may "counter-sue" for a divorce. The divorce will be granted if the grounds are proven despite your objections.



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