How To File for Divorce in Illinois
In Illinois, the divorce process begins when one spouse files a petition for a dissolution of marriage. This petition enables both parties to end the relationship as well as divide marital assets and debts. One spouse may also choose to seek spousal support upon the end of the marriage. Additionally, if children are involved, spouses are to seek an agreement on parenting time, responsibilities, and support. Overall, understanding the divorce laws in Illinois, and how they change, helps both parties better prepare when meeting with an attorney for the first time.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act
The most recent change to divorce laws in Illinois occurred in January 2022. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act includes several new rules that may affect a divorce.
Depending on your situation, one of these rules may apply:
- There are new procedures in place for how one spouse may request the court to require the other spouse to pay for the cost of their attorney.
- The Court may grant permission to temporarily relocate a child’s residence during divorce proceedings if it serves the best interest of the child.
- The Court requires an independent investigation in all cases where claims of child abuse or neglect are present.
Requirements for Filing for Divorce in Illinois
Both parties should be aware of the following requirements prior to filing a petition to dissolve their marriage.
- A petition must be filed in the county in which one or both parties reside. The law also requires residency in the state for at least 90 days prior to filing.
- Both parties have been living separate and apart for a minimum of six months. However, this does not mean they have to live in different homes.
- In the petition, a spouse must cite the grounds for the divorce. In Illinois, the only grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences. This means the marriage cannot be repaired, and it is in both spouses’ best interest not to continue the marriage.
Upon filing, the court encourages both spouses to meet, along with their attorneys, to discuss key divorce terms before heading to a trial.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Should both spouses choose not to agree or accept the terms of their divorce agreement, this is considered a contested divorce. These contested issues often involve decisions regarding dissolving the marriage, parenting time, dividing marital property, or spousal support. In these instances, both spouses may request their attorneys be present as they attempt to resolve the issues. They may also choose to request the presence of a licensed mediator. Ultimately, contested issues extend the divorce process as both parties work to come to an agreement.
If both spouses do agree to the terms of their divorce agreement, a judge will then review the document to ensure it complies with state and local court rules. Uncontested divorces often involve less time and resources. For some couples, having a prenup or postnup contributes to this process.
Understanding Divorce Laws in Illinois Starts with the Right Attorney
The divorce process is often complicated, regardless of how long a couple has been married. Seeking the knowledge of an experienced attorney is the best way to ensure both parties get the most out of their divorce agreement. Kristen Strieker has been practicing family law in Madison County for over 10 years. In addition to her knowledge of divorce laws in Illinois, she is also a licensed mediator and frequently works with clients on contested issues. Contact our office today to make an appointment.