Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide


Illinois Divorce Cases


Illinois divorce cases states all the details that deals with the divorce proceedings in Illinois. Illinois is one of the few states that has maintained the fault-based grounds for divorce, but has added a “no-fault” ground, known as irreconcilable differences. The points elaborating the procedures are discussed below.

Grounds for divorce in Illinois

The fault grounds for divorce are:

  • Impotence during the marriage and continuing thereafter
  • Adultery
  • Bigamy
  • Drunkenness for 2 years
  • Habits caused by excessive use of addictive drugs for 2 years
  • Threatening the life of other spouse by means of poison or other things
  • Repeatedly extreme physical or mental cruelty etc

The no-fault grounds for divorce are:

  • The couple have lived separately for 2 years or more
  • Irretrievable breakdown of marriage due to irreconcilable differences
  • Reconciliation efforts have failed and further attempts of reconciliation would not be possible and not in the best interests of the family

Initial filing

The case is started when the lawyer files the petition. Some cases could be started by filing a “praecipe” but that’s not the regular method. The petition still must be filed within a short time. The petitioner doesn’t necessarily have to tell his/her spouse neither the sheriff has to serve the papers immediately, once the case is filed. The petitioner can instruct the attorney to wait till he/she notifies the other spouse. This period of silence need not last too long, but it could be beneficial in some cases to get the case on file. After this, speak with the lawyer to determine the best way to proceed.

Major legal issues in divorce case

The issues in all Illinois divorce cases are child custody (including visitation), child support, property, alimony or spousal support etc. Before a judgment of dissolution is entered, all the issues must be adjudicated. The court may enter a judgment for dissolution that reserves these issues for later disposition, under special circumstances.

Death during the case

The case ends if any of the spouses dies before the entry of the judgment. If the death occurs after the entry of the judgment for dissolution, but before judgment on reserved issues, the proceeding does not end and the reserved issues are judged.

Legal separation

A spouse, who is living separate and apart without fault, could file a petition for a judgment of legal separation and maintenance. This judgment is not a legal bar to either party for their dissolution of marriage.

Discovery cases

Discovery cases allow time for both the sides to learn about each other’s case. This period of time is known as the “discovery phase” and could take quite a while. One usually thinks that discovery in a discovery case is useless. That’s not the case. There are cases where a spouse has been hiding money for number of years from the other spouse, stealing money from their joint account etc. These cases take time to come to a solution.

Each circuit determines the duration of the discovery period. For e.g. in Cook County, discovery is supposed to be completed within 18 months from the start of the case. In most contested cases, the deadline is crossed. Judges usually grant extensions.

Illinois divorce cases generally comprises all the issues covered above.


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