What Are the 5 Steps for Divorcing in Illinois?

Couple with divorce contract and ring on desk. Divorce

Divorce can be a painful and emotionally draining experience. Furthermore, the various states regulate divorce according to their own laws and policies. This suggests that divorce in some states is easier than others. Since there is nothing that can be done about it, your best bet is to know and understand the laws in your state. This post will focus on Illinois.

Also known as the land of Lincoln and the Prairie State, Illinois is home to more than 12.8 million people. It is known for cities like Chicago and Springfield, and famous sports teams like the Cubs (baseball) and Bears (football). But as good as life can be in Illinois, people still divorce.

ABM Family Law, a firm consisting of experienced Chicago divorce lawyers, says Illinois law stipulates a five-step process for divorce. The steps are described below. Needless to say, it is important to have experienced divorce attorneys representing both sides.

  • 1. Verify Residency Requirements

First and foremost, Illinois couples must meet residency requirements in order to legally divorce in the state. The requirements are simple enough. In order to seek a divorce, a person must either be a resident or a member of the U.S. armed forces stationed in Illinois for at least 90 days prior to filing.

  • 2. Verify Grounds for Divorce

Illinois statute cites irreconcilable differences as the grounds for divorce. However, what constitutes irreconcilable differences is a matter of interpretation. It is ultimately up to a judge to determine whether the legal threshold has been met.

Irreconcilable differences are generally considered differences that have caused permanent damage to the marriage relationship. Judges often look at whether or not attempts to reconcile have been made and, if so, whether or not they have helped at all. Judges are known to assume that the irreconcilable differences mandate has been met if couples have been legally separated for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.

  • 3. File Divorce Papers

If residency requirements are met and grounds for divorce exist, the next step is to file the actual divorce papers. One party will file to request divorce from the other. The filing party must ensure that copies of the papers are sent to the other party.

The document the other party will receive is essentially a summons or notice of petition. It tells the other party that a court proceeding has been initiated. This does not necessarily mean a court date is imminent. In fact, most times it is not. Couples may have several months to a year, or longer, to come to some sort of settlement before the court hearing.

  • 4. Contesting the Divorce

Step four is only necessary if one party disagrees with the divorce filing. In such a case, that party has the option to contest the divorce. They will file papers with the court explaining why. In addition, that party must send copies of the papers to the original filer.

  • 5. Negotiate a Settlement

Finally, the two parties must come up with some sort of settlement a judge can sign off on. This is generally accomplished through their attorneys. A typical settlement covers everything from division of assets to custody of shared children. Courts only intervene in settlements when absolutely necessary. When they do, it is generally related to custody issues.

Getting a divorce in Illinois is time-consuming and difficult. It is designed to be that way. By making it difficult, the state hopes that couples will find a way to reconcile their differences and stay together. If that’s not possible, divorce may be the only legal remedy remaining.