Divorce is the process by which a marriage is legally terminated. In Illinois, a divorce is legally known as a “dissolution of marriage.” The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/) governs all aspects of divorce proceedings. To obtain a divorce under Illinois law, a court must enter a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. If the spouses agree on all issues, then a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage may be entered by agreement, or if the parties cannot agree on all or any one issue, then a Judge may decide any unresolved issue(s) and enter a Judgment for Dissolution.
In a traditional divorce proceeding, the spouses engage in competitive and acrimonious divorce litigation to dissolve their marriage using the court system. Most litigated divorce cases settle without a trial, and there are alternative methods to traditional divorce litigation, including:
No matter how spouses choose to proceed to a dissolution of marriage, a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must be filed with the court and a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage entered by a Judge.
To file a petition for divorce in Illinois, one of the following must be true:
Recent changes to Illinois Divorce Law have eliminated grounds for divorce and fault-based divorce, resulting in a no-fault divorce. In Illinois, spouses can only cite irreconcilable differences as the grounds for divorce. Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, irreconcilable differences are those that have caused “the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.”
There is no waiting period to file for a divorce in Illinois. However, if the spouses do not agree that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, then the spouses must have lived separate and apart for only six months before the court may enter a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.
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