Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

Updated on June 6, 2022
Updated: June 17, 2022

Every couple faces the same question multiple times over their marriage: should we get a divorce? While many couples are able to fix their problems and repair their marriages, almost 41% of first-marriage couples end up divorcing, and this number raises to 60% if it is a second marriage. Effectively, 1 in 4 couples get divorced in the United States. 

So, what are the grounds for divorce in Illinois? Because divorce laws vary from state to state, it can be extremely confusing when it comes time to file for divorce. In certain states, such as California, some couples can qualify for same day divorces, while other states require couples to be separated for certain amounts of time before they are allowed to file for divorce. Having a qualified divorce attorney on your side can help with any questions or confusion you might have. 

Facing the idea of divorce can be extremely isolating, especially for those that have not gone through divorce processes before. Having a good team on your side can make the difference in staying strong throughout your divorce and making sure you receive a fair divorce settlement. At Tommalieh Law, we know that our clients are going through the ringer emotionally, and always do our best to ensure that we support as clients emotionally outside of the court room, as well in support their best interests inside mediation and court rooms. 

How Dong Does it Take to Get Divorced in Illinois? 

The time period for a divorce depends on whether or not the divorce is contested. Uncontested divorces do not have a waiting period, and can be finished in a matter of weeks or months, depending on the availability of court and hearing dates. Contested divorces, however, can last for months or even years. In these long, drawn out divorces, you will not see a court room until a continuous period of six-month separation after filing, as your ex-partner will need to be served with divorce papers and will be given time to respond and both parties will need to create "Discovery" packets, that include all incomes and assets, etc. Receiving an official divorce degree and becoming divorced in contested divorces can take over 2 years. 

Not all divorces takes this long however. Uncontested divorces do not have a waiting period, and can be finished in a matter of weeks or months, depending on the availability of court and hearing dates. You and your ex-partner may even qualify for a Joint Dissolution divorce, if you meet all required criteria for this divorce process: 

  • No children 
  • Marriage was shorter than 8 years 
  • Neither spouse is requesting alimony 
  • At least one party is a resident of Illinois 
  • Neither party owns real property 
  • Irreconcilable differences is the reason for divorce 
  • your combined income is less that $60,000 a year 
  • you have less than $50,000 in shared marital assets and marital property 
  • Both parties can agree on a fair divorce settlement and sign papers agreeing to such 

If you do not meet all requirements for a Joint Dissolution, your application will be refused, and your will forfeit your non-refundable filing fee. If you do meet the criteria, you will be subject to an expedited divorce judgement and could be divorced in less than 2 months. 

How Much Does the Average Divorce Cost in Illinois? 

If you are filing an Uncontested Divorce, your only costs may be your filing fees. The fee to file for divorce in Illinois is $250, and if both parties are in agreement over a divorce settlement and do not feel the need to hire attorneys, this is the total price you will pay for your divorce. The filing party is normally responsible for this fee, though both parties may agree to split it, or if neither party can afford the fees, there are waivers available. 

Contested divorces, however, are a completely different story. The average contested divorce costs around $13,800. If you have children or property to divide, this number will continue to climb. With divorce attorneys prices sitting around $250-$300 an hour, the more drawn out your divorce and the more you and your ex-partner argue and disagree, the more money you will both end up spending in the end. 

Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

Do You Have to be Legally Separated Before Divorce?

You do not have to be legally separated in order to file for divorce in Illinois, but legal separation is an option. During legal separation, you will be free to live apart from your ex-partner, and either party may request alimony during this time, as well as all parties may be required to attend family court for child custody arrangements or be required to pay child support. 

Legal separation is essentially a divorce, without actually being legally divorced. You can file for legal separation before filing for divorce, but you will still be legally married to your ex-partner until a time that either party files for divorce and a divorce is granted by a judge. There is no time limit on legal separation, and some couples get back together after being legally separated for a time through efforts at reconciliation.  

FAQ: How do you divorce with children involved?

What is a Fault and a No-Fault divorce? 

There are many reasons that people list for divorce, such as infidelity, loss of love, abuse, or even communication problems. In Illinois, divorces are separated into two different categories: fault and no-fault. There is a very basic difference between these two categories: the reasons for the divorce. In Fault, or At-Fault divorces, one party alone is responsible for causing the divorce. In No-Fault divorces, neither party is entirely at fault for the dissolution of the marriage.

No-Fault divorces tend to be much more amicable than At-Fault divorces, and sometimes can move faster if there is no animosity from either party and they are able to agree on a fair divorce settlement. Most at-fault divorces involve some kind of infidelity, domestic abuse, habitual drunkenness or drug use, or mental cruelty. 

In 2016 however, Illinois abolished the marital fault system in divorce, making it a No-Fault Divorce State. This means that regardless of fault in a divorce, fault has no bearing on family court processes and is not used to decide divorce settlements. While adultery, abuse, and addiction, etc, cannot be used against either spouse during a divorce, they can be used during child support and child custody issues in family court. This also means there is no required ground for divorce, which means you can divorce for no reason other than you want to, if you wish. 

We Know it's Hard, but We're Here to Help 

Deciding to file for divorce is extremely hard, and we know that you have thought it through thoroughly. Now that you have made your decision, your first step should be building the perfect divorce team and divorce plan. If you know you are facing a contested divorce, the sooner you get yourself prepared and the process moving the sooner you will once again have control over your own life. 

At Tommalieh Law, we know that you didn't make this decision lightly, and that dealing with the emotional pain and shame of the ending of a marriage doesn't need to be any harder than it already is. That's why we give everything to our clients: let us help you through one of the hardest decisions of your life. Call us today for a free consultation, and let us help you get the process started. The sooner you take the plunge, the sooner you can begin this new chapter of your life. 

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