How To File for Divorce in Illinois

To begin the divorce process (also called dissolution of marriage) in Illinois, one or both spouses need to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage tells the court information about the spouses, the marriage, the children, if any, the assets owned by the parties, the grounds for divorce, and other matters required by law to be included. The Petition is filed in the county in which one of the spouses resides. The divorce can be uncontested or contested, depending on whether the spouses agree on everything at the time of filing. In some cases, the spouses can file a joint simplified dissolution proceeding.

Filing for Divorce

Divorce lawyers provide legal advice to the spouses and represent them during the divorce. A divorce lawyer will help explain how to file for a divorce and what legal rights the spouse has. In Illinois, for example, during a divorce, property is divided up based on what the court considers to be “just and equitable,” rather than each spouse automatically getting half of the assets. Divorce lawyers help the spouse understand things like how property is divided up and how parenting time, previously called “custody,” is arranged. The divorce lawyer also negotiates for these things on behalf of the spouse.

Grounds for Divorce – Irreconcilable Differences

In Illinois, the grounds, or reasons, for divorce are “irreconcilable differences.” Irreconcilable differences are differences that have resulted in the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. To prove this, the spouses can show that they have been unsuccessful at trying to resolve these differences, or that trying to do so in the future is not an option and would not be in the best interests of the family. The court automatically assumes that there are irreconcilable differences if the parties have lived in separate residences continually for at least six months prior to the entry of the divorce judgment.

In Illinois, the spouses do not have to show that the irreconcilable differences leading to the divorce are the fault of one or both parties.

Residency Requirement

To file the divorce in Illinois, the spouses must also show that at least one of them (a) lived in Illinois or (b) is a member of the armed services and was stationed in Illinois for a period of 90 days before the divorce proceeding was filed, or before the court made a finding of irreconcilable differences.