The Basics

Divorce in Illinois is referred to as Dissolution of Marriage.

Residency Requirement:
       To file for divorce in Illinois, one of the spouses must be a resident of Illinois for at least 90 days.

       If the filing spouse has lived in the state for at least 90 days, but the other spouse never lived in Illinois or has never committed an act inside Illinois which would cause him or her to come under the jurisdiction of the court, although a court may grant a divorce, it does not have jurisdiction to order the non-resident spouse to do anything, such as pay child support, transfer property, or pay debts.

       A divorce case is initiated by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the circuit court in the county where either spouse resides. The Plaintiff or Petitioner, the filing spouse, must file a copy of the Petition and have it served with a summons on the Defendant or Respondent, the other spouse. The Defendant or Respondent has 30 days after being served to file an Answer to the Petition.

Legal Grounds for Divorce

Divorce Grounds:
       In 2017, Illinois revised the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act with respect to grounds.  In the past, Illinois had several fault-based grounds for divorce, but now has only one ground called Irreconcilable Differences, which is considered no-fault.  In the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the Plaintiff or Petitioner alleges that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, that efforts at reconciliation have failed, or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impractical and not in the best interests of the family.

Other Considerations

Mandatory Parenting Classes:
       In an action for Dissolution of Marriage involving minor children, or in a post-judgment proceeding involving minor children, the court typically orders both parents to attend an educational program concerning the effects of dissolution of marriage on the children.  The program may be divided into sessions and is not to exceed a combined total of four hours. The program is educational in nature and is not designed for individual therapy.  The fees or costs of these educational sessions are to be paid by the parents.

Name Change:
       Upon request by a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court shall order that her maiden name or former name be restored.

Mandatory Mediation:
       In any case involving children where the parties are not in agreement with respect to parenting time and parental decision-making, mediation with a third party is mandatory.  This carries with it an additional expense that should be taken into consideration.