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Illinois Divorce FAQ

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Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we will answer frequently asked questions about Illinois divorce, including:

  • Is there a waiting period to get a divorce in Illinois?
  • Is Illinois a 50/50 state for divorce?
  • Do both parties have to agree to get a divorce?
  • Can you be denied a divorce in Illinois?
  • How can you get a divorce if your spouse won’t sign?
  • How Can I Get a Quick Divorce in Illinois?
  • Can I date during a divorce?
  • What Can I Expect From a Divorce Hearing in Illinois?

Is there a waiting period to get a divorce in Illinois?

In Illinois, the parties must live separate and apart for 6 months prior to filing for divorce.  However, this requirement can be waived if both parties agree to forego the waiting period.  

Is Illinois a 50/50 state for divorce?

Illinois is not a 50/50 state for divorce.  Community property states divide all marital assets equally.  Illinois is an equitable property division state.  This means that the court weighs a number of factors to determine how to fairly divide property rather than dividing property 50/50.  These factors include each spouse’s contribution to acquiring the property, the value of the property, the duration of the marriage, and which party has more responsibility for any children of the marriage.  

You can learn more about this topic in our article, How Do Illinois Courts Divide Property in a Divorce?

Do both parties have to agree to get a divorce?

divorce process in illinois

Both parties do not have to agree to get a divorce.  A divorce can be filed by either party by filing a divorce petition along with a summons with the clerk of court and having it personally served upon the other party.  To learn more about how to file for divorce, check out our article, How to File for Divorce in Illinois.

Although both parties do not have to agree to get a divorce, both parties do have to agree to waive the 6-month waiting period of living separate and apart prior to a divorce as discussed above.

Can you be denied a divorce in Illinois?

In Illinois, you cannot be denied a divorce.  Some states have many grounds for divorce and may deny a divorce if you fail to prove the grounds that you allege in your divorce petition, such as adultery or habitual drunkenness.  Prior to 2016, Illinois operated this way as well.  However, since 2016, the only ground for divorce in Illinois is irreconcilable differences.  For more on this, check out our article, Recent Changes to Illinois Divorce Laws.

This means that the only reason that your divorce would be denied would be because you failed to follow the court’s procedural requirements or because you did not meet certain prerequisites, such as the six-month waiting period. Even if your case was dismissed or delayed based on these grounds, with the help of an attorney, you would eventually be able to receive a divorce order.   

For more, check out our article, What Are the Legal Requirements for Divorce in Illinois?

How can you get a divorce if your spouse won’t sign?

How To Get A Divorce in Illinois

Uncontested divorce is a great way to speed up the divorce process and make it less expensive.  We’ll discuss this in more detail below.  If both parties do not agree to the issues involved in the divorce, or even to the idea of getting divorced, this will not prevent you from receiving your divorce order.  

The first step is to live separate and apart for six months.  Next, you file your divorce petition and accompanying documentation with the circuit court in which one of the parties resides.  For more on this, check out our article, Illinois Petitions for Dissolution of Marriage Explained.  

You will then deliver the divorce petition to the county sheriff along with a summons that lists the initial court date. The sheriff will serve the divorce petition and summons upon your spouse and the divorce proceedings will begin.  To learn more about what happens next, check out: The Illinois Divorce Process Explained.

How Can I Get a Quick Divorce in Illinois?

Divorces tend to be drawn out when the parties cannot agree on how to handle issues such as child support, allocation of parenting time and responsibility, spousal maintenance, and division of assets and debts.  If the parties can agree on these issues, this is called an uncontested divorce.  In an uncontested divorce, the parties and their attorneys draft written agreements at the outset.  These are known as Marital Settlement Agreements and Joint Parenting Agreements.  Uncontested divorces can be resolved with one court appearance and can be finished as quickly as a month.  

An even more expedited version of a divorce is a Joint Simplified Divorce.  Joint Simplified Divorces require fewer and less complex forms than a standard divorce.  However, they are only available to couples with no children and less than a certain threshold in assets.

Can I date during a divorce?

Dating while your divorce is pending will not impact the judge’s ruling on the issues surrounding your divorce.  However, depending on the personalities involved, it may inflame emotions and make negotiation with your spouse more difficult.  If children are involved, the person you are dating may come under scrutiny as the court determines the best interests of the children with respect to parenting time and responsibility.  

For more on this, check out our article, Will Dating During My Divorce Affect the Outcome?

What Can I Expect From a Divorce Hearing in Illinois?

Divorces only go to trial if the parties fail to come to an agreement on all of the issues surrounding the divorce.  Any issues that the parties cannot settle must be decided by the judge at trial.  In a divorce trial, each attorney will make an opening statement presenting his or her client’s position on the issues in dispute.

Each side will then present evidence and call witnesses.  The witnesses are often simply the parties in the case.  When a witness is called by one party, the other party will have the opportunity to cross-examine the witness.

Once all evidence has been presented, each party will usually have the opportunity to make a closing statement summing up the evidence.  The judge will then either rule immediately or within the next few weeks.  

For more on this, check our our article: What Happens When a Divorce Goes to Trial?

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