In this article, we explain the legal requirements for divorce in Illinois. To file or petition for divorce in Illinois, the state requires residency for at least 90 days. The filing must also take place with a circuit court in which one of the spouses currently resides.
Illinois recognizes a “no-fault” grounds for divorce, meaning that neither spouse has to prove the other did something wrong to cause the divorce. The only grounds for divorce in Illinois is “irreconcilable differences,” meaning that the marriage is considered irretrievably broken; the spouses do not get along and the marital relationship cannot be repaired.
The state of Illinois requires the spouses to live separate and apart for six months prior to filing for divorce. However, this rule can be waived under some circumstances, including mutual agreement of the parties. Spouses may live at the same residence, but have to show proof they lived somewhat independently of one another and act as roommates, rather than a couple.
In addition to providing evidence that they’ve lived separate and apart, spouses must also indicate they’ve attempted efforts at reconciliation but it failed, and further attempts would not be in the best interest of the family or either party.
Illinois does allow simple divorces, known as “Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage,” but under very strict circumstances. The marriage must have lasted for less than eight years with at least six months of separation, no children were born from the marriage, neither spouse is financially dependent on the other, neither can own any real estate, must have a combined income of less than $35,000 with neither spouse earning more than $20,000 a year, and both spouses agree to waive the right of receiving any financial support payment.
If spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce but to do not qualify for a simple divorce, they may file for an uncontested divorce. The proper forms can be obtained from the county clerk where at least one spouse resides. The forms are more detailed than a simplified divorce, requiring more financial information, but the process is generally the same. Once all the forms are filed, spouses must write and sign a marriage settlement agreement and file a Stipulation for Uncontested Hearing with the clerk’s office.
The state of Illinois does recognize the legal separation of marriages. If you are living separate and apart from your spouse, you can petition for a court to grant legal separation from your spouse, and reasonable financial support and/or alimony. Petitioning for and a judgment on legal separation does not prevent either spouse from filing for divorce later on.