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Illinois Divorce Laws

The state of Illinois has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.

We are providing the following Illinois divorce laws to you as an easy reference guide. Use the following information to help you while you are completing your Illinois divorce papers.

Residency Requirements: In order to file Illinois divorce papers, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:

The court shall enter a judgment of dissolution of marriage as long as one of the spouses was a resident of this state or was stationed in this state while a member of the armed services, and the residence or military presence had been maintained for 90 days prior to filing. The proceedings shall be had in the county where the plaintiff or defendant resides. (750 Illinois Compiled Statutes - Chapter 5 - Sections: 104 and 401)

No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested Dissolution of Marriage cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Illinois the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:

That the spouses have lived separate and apart for a continuous period in excess of 2 years and irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or if the spouses have lived separate and apart for a continuous period of not less than 6 months next preceding the entry of the judgment dissolving the marriage, as evidenced by testimony or affidavits of the spouses, the requirement of living separate and apart for a continuous period in excess of 2 years may be waived upon written stipulation of both spouses filed with the court. (750 Illinois Compiled Statutes - Chapter 5 - Sections: 401)

Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the Dissolution of Marriage and is the one who actually files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the county court.

Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested Dissolution of Marriage versus a contested Dissolution of Marriage. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.

Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the Circuit Court of the __________ Judicial District, __________ County, Illinois. All Dissolution of Marriage cases in the state of Illinois are facilitated through this court for that particular county.

Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Illinois clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court.

Property and Debt Division: Illinois is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.

The court shall divide the marital property without regard to marital misconduct in just proportions considering all relevant factors, including: (A) the contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation, or increase or decrease in value of the marital or non-marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or to the family unit; (B) the dissipation by each party of the marital or non-marital property; (C) the value of the property assigned to each spouse; (D) the duration of the marriage; (E) the relevant economic circumstances of each spouse when the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home, or the right to live therein for reasonable periods, to the spouse having custody of the children; (F) any obligations and rights arising from a prior marriage of either party; (G) any antenuptial agreement of the parties; (H) the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each of the parties; (I) the custodial provisions for any children; (J) whether the apportionment is in lieu of or in addition to maintenance; (K) the reasonable opportunity of each spouse for future acquisition of capital assets and income; and (L) the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties. (750 Illinois Compiled Statutes - Chapter 5 - Sections: 503)

Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.

In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage a maintenance award for either spouse in amounts and for periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, in gross or for fixed or indefinite periods of time, and the maintenance may be paid from the income or property of the other spouse after consideration of all relevant factors, including: (A) the income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance; (B) the needs of each party; (C) the present and future earning capacity of each party; (D) any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage; (E) the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment; (F) the standard of living established during the marriage; (G) the duration of the marriage; (H) the age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties; (I) the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties; (J) contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse; (K) any valid agreement of the parties; and (L) any other factor that the court expressly finds. (750 Illinois Compiled Statutes - Chapter 5 - Sections: 504)

Changing Name: Upon request by a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court shall order her maiden name or a former name restored. (750 Illinois Compiled Statutes - Chapter 5 - Sections: 413)

Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Illinois courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.

The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interest of the child and shall not consider marital conduct. The court shall consider all relevant factors including: (A) the wishes of the child's parent or parents as to his custody; (B) the wishes of the child as to his custodian; (C) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest; (D) the child's adjustment to his home, school and community; (E) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (F) the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child's potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person; (G) the occurrence of ongoing or repeated abuse, whether directed against the child or directed against another person; and (H) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child. (750 Illinois Compiled Statutes - Chapter 5 - Sections: 602, 603 and 610)

Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Illinois child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.

If the parties can not agree to a support amount, the court will apply the support guidelines. If the court makes a finding that the application of the guidelines would be inappropriate, after considering the best interests of the child in light of evidence including but not limited to one or more of the following relevant factors: (1) the financial resources and needs of the child; (2) the financial resources and needs of the custodial parent; (3) the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved; (4) the physical and emotional condition of the child, and his educational needs; and (5) the financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.

If the court deviates from the guidelines, the court's finding shall state the amount of support that would have been required under the guidelines, if determinable. The court shall include the reason or reasons for the variance from the guidelines. (750 Illinois Compiled Statutes - Chapter 5 - Sections: 505, 507)

Copyright Notice: These Illinois divorce laws above are copyrighted by 3 Step Solutions, LLC. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.

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