The process for filing for divorce in Illinois is relatively easy to understand for anyone familiar with divorces in other jurisdictions, but the state has specific laws and rules regarding divorce that are worth knowing for anyone who is preparing to dissolve their marriage. Depending on the specific details of each case, divorce in Illinois can be straightforward or much more complicated.
A couple that has been married for less than eight years and has no children can file a Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, allowing them to complete their divorce more quickly. In order to qualify, the couple must also earn less than $35,000 collectively, own no real estate, have no children and have spent at least six months separated prior to filing. Additionally, neither spouse can demand spousal support.
Couples who do not meet these requirements must file a standard Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to begin the divorce process. While Illinois requires a filing spouse to list an acceptable legal grounds for the divorce, all U.S. states now allow for no-fault divorces based on irreconcilable differences. While Illinois law requires a couple to have been separated for at least two years before qualifying for this type of divorce, six months of separation is acceptable for both spouses who agree to waive the two-year waiting period.
Illinois courts have the authority to divide a couple's marital property and assets in a just and equitable manner, not taking into account marital misconduct when they do so. A judge will also approve or deny any request for child support or alimony. Divorcing couples can avoid placing their assets into the hands of a judge by agreeing to a settlement or negotiating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. The terms of such a settlement are considered legally binding unless rejected by a judge.
Source: Madison-St. Clair Record, "The basics of a divorce case," Rita Novak, Jan. 7, 2012