Illinois Divorce laws

Divorce laws in Illinois

Obtaining a divorce in Illinois is the legal process by which a marriage between two individuals is dissolved. The court order for dissolution will contain all agreements made between the parties, such as child custody or support arrangements, division of assets and debts, and any other pertinent details. To initiate proceedings, at least one of the parties must have been living in Illinois for 90 days prior to filing a petition. There is no waiting period when it comes to filing the petition.

Illinois divorceIn Illinois, the only grounds for divorce recognized are those of “irreconcilable differences”, also referred to as a “no-fault divorce”. This means that either party must prove that the marriage has broken down irrevocably and there has been either a separation of six months in separate households or that reconciliation attempts have failed and further attempts would not be beneficial. In some cases, an application will need to be filed with the court in order to receive a waiver of the filing fee if the petitioner cannot afford it.

Although many couples experience disagreement over certain matters during the divorce process, these disputes can usually be resolved through negotiation, mediation with lawyers and judges, or both. Most divorces ultimately settle without going to trial due to the associated expenses. At a minimum, issues such as property division, debt division, spousal maintenance, parental responsibilities allocation for children, and financial obligations towards any minors must be settled before the divorce can be granted. If there is no mutual agreement on these matters, then the case will go to trial where a judge will make the decisions for the couple.

Illinois Divorce Law Details

The sad truth about some marriages is that they just weren’t meant to last. On the bright side, the divorce rate across the nation is actually down. This is true in Illinois where there were just over 32,000 divorces in 2019. That certainly lowers the 1979 high of over 52,000 divorces.

The Circuit Court must have jurisdiction over your case when you wish to apply for dissolution of marriage in Illinois. Your divorce may be granted providing that you have been a resident of Illinois for a period of no less than 90 when applying for dissolution of marriage.

In some cases, Illinois divorce court judges can require mandatory reconciliation therapy if the court thinks there might be a glimmer of hope of the couple staying together. If not, then divorce proceedings can begin if you’ve been a resident of Illinois for at least 90 days.

Depending on the circumstances, the proceedings can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several years. Additionally, it costs anywhere from $250 to $300 to simply file the divorce petitions

Filing with the Court in Illinois

You must file your Illinois divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in Illinois are listed below:

  • Cook County: Circuit Court – Chancery Division
    2403 Richard J. Daley Center, Chicago, IL 60602 Phone: 312-603-4181 Fax: 312-603-6787
  • Cook County Circuit Court – County Division:
    1701 Richard J. Daley Center, Chicago, IL 60602 Phone: 312-603-6194 Fax: 312-603-4351
  • Winnebago County Circuit Courthouse:
    400 W. State St. Rockford, IL 61101 Phone: (815) 987-2510 Fax: (815) 987-3012
  • Sangamon County Circuit Court:
    200 S. Ninth, Room 405, Springfield, IL 62701 Phone: (217) 753-6674
  • Peoria County Circuit Court:
    324 Main Street, Peoria, IL 61602 Telephone: (309) 672-6056, Fax: (309) 672-6054
  • Champaign County Circuit Courthouse:
    1776 E. Washington Street, Urbana, IL 61802 Telephone: 217-384-3720

If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.

Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

As with most other states, Illinois grants no-fault and fault divorces. The person filing for the divorce is called the petitioner whereas the other side is referred to as the respondent. The primary factor considered in a no-fault divorce is if the couple has lived apart for a continuous period of time. If it’s been two years or more, the no-fault divorce will be quickly granted.

The two-year clause can be waived if the couple has lived apart for at least six months and can prove that they’ve reached irreconcilable differences with no hope of salvaging the marriage.

There are several factors that can be applied to a fault divorce in Illinois. If the respondent is naturally impotent or has another wife and family at the time of the marriage these would be considered grounds for a divorce. The same holds if the respondent has committed adultery, abandoned the spouse, has been deemed to be a substance abuser for at least two years, is convicted of a felony, or is found guilty of mental or physical abuse.

Lastly, if the respondent transmitted a sexual disease that is also considered grounds for divorce in Illinois.

When applying for dissolution of marriage in Illinois there are certain grounds and these are no-fault-based grounds and fault-based grounds.

No-fault based grounds

  1. Living apart and separate from each other for a period of at least two years
  2. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage with no chance of reconciliation

Fault-based grounds

  1. One of the spouses was previously married and never divorced
  2. Impotence
  3. Adultery
  4. Wilful desertion for a period of 1 year or more
  5. Two years or more of habitual drunkenness
  6. Two years or more of drug addiction
  7. Extreme and repeated cruelty
  8. Imprisonment or felony conviction
  9. Infected with a sexually transmitted disease

Property division when divorcing in Illinois

Illinois is considered an “equitable distribution state.” This means that any property or assets that were obtained or created during the time of the marriage will be divided equally. The exceptions are if a spouse received any gifts or inheritance outside of the marriage.

Factored into the dissolution of the property would be any pre-nuptial agreements and child custody issues. The court can also consider what kind of tax burdens might be placed on either spouse as a result of gaining property.

A judge in a divorce case will encourage the couple to mediate the division of their property and assets. If they can settle it between themselves things will go a lot smoother and quicker which should be the goal in these types of cases.

If possible, any property division is down to the parties to work out. However, if this is impossible then the Circuit Court will divide the property. As an equitable state when the courts are dividing property, they will first decide which property is considered marital. This property is then given a monetary value and will be divided fairly between the spouses. They will consider the following when doing so:

  1. The contribution of each of the spouses
  2. The dissipation of each spouse when it comes to marital or on-marital property
  3. The value of each property assigned to the spouses
  4. How long the marriage lasted
  5. The economic circumstances of each of the spouses
  6. Obligations that arise from a previous marriage
  7. Any anti-nuptial agreement of the spouses
  8. The health, occupation, sources of income, and employability of each of the spouses
  9. Custodial provisions for any children
  10. The opportunity for each spouse to further acquire capital assets or income
  11. Tax consequences of the property division 750 Illinois Compiled Statutes – Chapter 5 – Sections: 503

Child Custody in an Illinois Divorce

If children are involved in a divorce in Illinois, then the court will take into account what is considered best for their emotional and physical well-being. This will mean asking both the parents and the children what their wishes are concerning sole or joint custody.

Quite often, the children’s feelings are what sways a divorce court judge. With regard to child support amounts in Illinois, the minimum for one child is 20% of the net income. For two children it is 28%, for three children it goes up to 32% and rises accordingly for each child.

Child Custody Factors in Illinois

The Court will take the needs of the child into account and will consider the following when deciding child custody factors:

  • The wishes of the parents as to custody of the child
  • The wishes of the children themselves
  • The interaction of the child with parents, siblings, and any other relevant person residing on the property
  • How well the child has adjusted to home, school, and the community
  • The physical and mental aspects of the child
  • Any history of violence
  • Any ongoing or repeated abuse within the family
  • The willingness of each of the parents to ensure the child has a relationship with the other parent

750 Illinois Compiled Statutes – Chapter 5 – Sections: 602, 603 and 610

Child support factors

Either of the parents may have to pay child support costs. If the official guideline, which the court rules by, is not appropriate then the following will be taken into account:

  • The needs and financial resources of the child
  • The standard of living that the child might have enjoyed had the divorce not taken place
  • The emotional, physical, and educational needs of the child
  • The financial resources and needs of both parents
  • Health insurance premiums may also be taken into account by the court

If child support is not met by the spouse or spouse then the spouse or spouse’s driving license may be revoked [625 Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated; Chapter 5, Sections 7-703 and 750 Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated; Chapter 5, Sections 505, 505.2, and 507

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