Everything You Need to Know before Getting Divorced in Illinois

Getting a divorce is a life-altering decision that can be emotionally challenging and legally complex. If you’re considering a divorce in Illinois, it’s essential to understand the prerequisites, legal grounds, and the steps involved. This article provides a detailed overview of the divorce process in Illinois, ensuring you’re well-informed and can make decisions that will lead to a smoother post-divorce life.

Illinois Divorce Prerequisites

1. Residency Requirement

Before filing for divorce in Illinois, at least one spouse must be a state resident for a minimum of 90 days. The divorce must be filed in the county where either spouse resides.

2. Grounds for Divorce

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning no proof of wrongdoing is required to obtain a divorce. The only ground for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” However, fault-based divorce is also an option, with grounds like adultery, desertion, mental cruelty, physical cruelty, substance abuse, felony conviction, and infectious disease. Spouses must have lived separately and apart for six months before the divorce is granted.

Financial Disclosures in Divorce

Financial disclosures play a crucial role in divorce proceedings in Illinois. Both parties provide comprehensive and accurate financial information related to income, assets, and debts. This ensures fair decisions on property division, spousal maintenance, and child support. While waiving financial disclosures might seem tempting for expediency, it’s generally not recommended, as it could lead to an unfair outcome.

Required Parenting Class

When divorcing couples have children, Illinois law mandates attendance in a parenting education program. This program covers topics like the emotional impact of divorce on children, effective co-parenting communication, developing parenting plans, and legal and financial issues related to child custody and support. There may be exceptions to this requirement in cases involving domestic violence or safety concerns.

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Illinois Divorce Forms

Several essential forms must be filed to obtain a divorce in Illinois:

  1. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: A formal request to the court for a divorce.
  2. Summons: Notifies the other party of the divorce filing and provides instructions on how to respond.
  3. Financial Affidavit: Provides a complete and accurate accounting of each party’s financial situation.
  4. Marital Settlement Agreement: Outlines the divorce settlement terms, including property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody and support.
  5. Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage: The final order granting the divorce, including details on property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody and support.

A Simplified Divorce Procedure

Couples who meet specific criteria can opt for a simplified divorce procedure, which is quicker and less expensive. To qualify, the couple must have been married for eight years or fewer, have no children or substantial assets or debts, and agree on the terms of the divorce. This process involves filing a Joint Simplified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and a hearing may not be necessary.

Basic Divorce Steps in Illinois

Here’s an overview of the basic divorce process in Illinois:

  1. Filing the Petition: The petitioner files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the county where either spouse resides, initiating the divorce proceedings.
  2. Responding to the Petition: The respondent has 30 days to file a response, acknowledging receipt of the petition and raising any disagreements.
  3. Discovery: Both parties provide a complete accounting of their finances, including financial affidavits and tax returns.
  4. Negotiating the Settlement: The parties work together to create a Marital Settlement Agreement outlining the divorce terms.
  5. Mediation: If negotiations break down, the parties may attempt mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods.
  6. Finalizing the Divorce: If a settlement is reached or if the case goes to trial, the court issues a final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, granting the divorce and setting the terms.
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Spousal Maintenance in Illinois

Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support, is payment from one spouse to the other during or after divorce. It is determined based on factors like the length of the marriage, each party’s income and assets, and the standard of living during the marriage. Illinois recognizes several types of spousal maintenance, including temporary, rehabilitative, and permanent.

Child Support in Illinois

Child support is financial assistance from one parent to the other to cover the cost of raising a child. It is calculated based on both parents’ income, the number of children they have together, and the time spent with the child. Child support payments typically continue until the child turns 18 or 19 if still in high school. Deviations from the formula may occur based on specific circumstances.


Navigating a divorce can be emotionally challenging, but understanding the process is crucial for a smoother transition into post-divorce life. Illinois’s divorce laws are designed to ensure fairness and provide guidelines for property division, spousal maintenance, and child support. By being well-informed about the prerequisites, steps, and legal aspects of divorce in Illinois, you can make informed decisions and move forward with confidence.


  1. Can I get a divorce in Illinois without proving fault?Yes, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, so you can obtain a divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” without proving wrongdoing.
  2. Is it possible to waive financial disclosures in divorce?While it’s not recommended, financial disclosures may be waived if both parties have roughly equal financial power and wish to resolve the divorce amicably and expeditiously.
  3. Are parenting classes mandatory for all divorcing couples in Illinois?Yes, Illinois law requires both parents to attend a parenting education program when filing for divorce, regardless of custody arrangements.
  4. Can couples opt for a simplified divorce procedure in Illinois?Yes, couples who meet specific criteria, such as a short marriage and no substantial assets or debts, can choose a simplified divorce procedure.
  5. How is child support calculated in Illinois?Child support in Illinois is calculated using a formula that considers both parents’ income, the number of children, and custody arrangements. The court may deviate from the formula in certain cases.
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