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Illinois Divorce Jurisdiction Explained | How to Determine Divorce Jurisdiction and Venue

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

In this article we explain how to determine which court has jurisdiction over divorce cases and which county in Illinois is the appropriate venue for divorce. We will answer the questions: what is jurisdiction in a divorce case?, when does Illinois have jurisdiction over divorce cases?. What is the definition of “residency” for divorce jurisdiction?, what is the difference between “jurisdiction” and “venue” for Illinois divorce?, and in which county should I file my Illinois divorce?

What is jurisdiction in a divorce case?

Jurisdiction is a threshold issue that a court must decide before determining the merits of the case: "was the case filed in the appropriate state, such that courts of that state have the right to decide the case?"  Jurisdiction is the reason that someone who lives with their spouse in Illinois and has always done so cannot file for divorce in Indiana courts simply because they prefer Indiana divorce laws to those of Illinois.  

Sometimes, multiple states can have jurisdiction over a divorce case.  In these cases, the party filing the case can choose which state will control the case, unless the court determines that it is not the most convenient location for the case to be heard.  This is known as the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

When does Illinois have jurisdiction over divorce cases?

Illinois has jurisdiction to decide your divorce case if either spouse has resided in Illinois for 90 days.  However, you can file for divorce immediately after moving to Illinois or even before moving to Illinois.  In these cases, courts can enter temporary orders immediately but will not have jurisdiction to enter a final order until one of the spouses have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days.

What is the definition of “residency” for divorce jurisdiction?

Residency is defined as the place where someone intends to make their “permanent abode.”  Intent is the most important factor in determining residency.  Courts examine the facts to determine a person’s intent on a case-by-case basis.

What is the difference between jurisdiction and venue for Illinois divorce?

“Jurisdiction” relates to the state in which you file for divorce.  Once you have determined which state (or states) have jurisdiction, you must next determine the proper “venue.”  “Venue” relates to the county in which the case is filed.  

In Which County Should I File My Illinois Divorce?

If Illinois has jurisdiction over a divorce case, the case may be filed in the county where either party resides.  
For more on divorce in Illinois, check out our article: The Illinois Divorce Process Explained.

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