When going through a divorce or separation in Illinois, it helps to have some key information and resources to help you out.
Below you will find an overview of the Illinois divorce laws so you can know what to expect, as well as locate various professional services and area divorce lawyers to help with your divorce. You'll also find separation and divorce forms if you choose to do it yourself, plus statutory guidelines and calculators for child support. You can also look up an area divorce support group, domestic abuse assistance services in the state, and more.
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Divorce in Illinois is referred to as a dissolution of marriage. Below is an overview of various laws regarding the dissolution of marriage. You can also access the full text of these laws by visiting: Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act - IL Compiled Statutes 750 - Chapter 5
You or your spouse must be a resident of, or stationed in (if in the military) Illinois for at least 90 days prior to filing for a dissolution of marriage. The paperwork can be filed in the county where either the petitioner or defendant resides. (750 ILCS 5/401)
Illinois is a "no-fault" state, meaning that you don't have to prove that the actions of one spouse caused the breakdown of the marriage. The only recognized ground for divorce is irreconcilable differences which has caused the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage, and there's no chance for reconciliation. If the spouses have been separated for 6 months (whether in separate houses or within the same house) prior to filing for a dissolution, there is an irrefutable presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met. (750 ILCS 5/401)
If a couple is living separate and apart from each other, the dependent spouse may petition the court for reasonable support and maintenance during the separation. The court may also approve a property settlement mutually agreed upon by the spouses, which will be legally binding. Under a legal separation, the spouses are still legally married and may not remarry until a dissolution of marriage has been granted.
Either spouse may petition the court for a dissolution of marriage after filing for a legal separation. If you and your spouse choose to reconcile during your separation, you can ask the court to vacate the separation order. (750 ILCS 5/402)
There are two types of divorce in Illinois: contested and uncontested. In a contested divorce, the parties are unable to reach a mutual agreement on the terms of their divorce. In these situations, the court will make the final decision on any issues which are contested.
In an uncontested divorce, the couple is able to reach a mutual agreement on the terms of their divorce. By doing so, they can get their divorce finalized much quicker than if it were a contested divorce. While there are no set time-frames on how long it takes to get a divorce finalized, most contested divorces can take 18 months or more, while an uncontested divorce can take 2-6 months or more. There is a quicker method of getting an uncontested divorce for couples who qualify; the joint simplified dissolution procedure.
If there are no children born of the marriage and the couple has very few assets and debts, they may qualify for a joint simplified dissolution procedure based on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
To qualify for a joint simplified dissolution procedure, the following conditions must be met:
If you meet all the conditions, you and your spouse can file a petition for a joint simplified dissolution and your case will generally be finalized more quickly than a contested or uncontested divorce. Plus, this type of divorce usually only requires one court appearance. (750 ILCS 5/452)
Marital assets and debts are those that were acquired during the marriage. Assets and debts acquired before the marriage (or after a legal separation) are generally considered separate property and not divisible in a divorce. Other assets that are considered separate property are gifts, inheritances, and assets excluded by a valid prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement.
Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital assets and debts will be divided by the court in a way that is fair (not necessarily equal), considering the circumstances of each party. Some of the factors the court will take into consideration in deciding how to split the marital estate include:
The court won't consider "marital misconduct" when dividing the assets and debts, even if a spouse's actions led to the breakup of the marriage. In the end, it is usually best if you and your spouse can reach an agreement on the division of assets and debts without involving the court. (750 ILCS 5/503)
Spousal support in Illinois is called maintenance and either spouse may be awarded maintenance. Maintenance is generally only ordered when one spouse is able to prove the need for financial assistance, and it usually won't be ordered if both spouses are employed.
Maintenance may be ordered for a relatively short duration of time to allow the dependent spouse to receive training to become employed. Longer duration and permanent alimony is usually reserved for cases in which one spouse will be unable to be self-supporting due to age or infirmity. The amount and duration of alimony will be based on the following factors:
The court may also consider any other factor it finds necessary to arrive at a decision, but marital misconduct is not a deciding factor.
The court generally uses the formula below for deciding how much spousal support to award, if the combined gross annual income of the parties if less than $500,000 and the paying spouse has no child support or alimony obligations from a previous relationship.
The result is the yearly amount the payor must pay the payee. The amount of calculated alimony, when added to the net income of the payee, shall not result in the payee receiving an amount that is in excess of 40% of the combined net income of the parties. Also, if combined maintenance and child support obligation exceeds 50% of the payor's net income, the court may determine non-guideline maintenance amounts.
How long maintenance will be paid depends on the length of the marriage. The duration of maintenance can be calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage by a factor of .20 (plus .04 for each additional year of marriage) starting at less than five years of marriage. For example a marriage of:
For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court may order maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term. If the court deviates from the guidelines, it shall state its reasoning for such a deviation.
Maintenance will automatically be terminated if the supported spouse is living with someone else in a conjugal relationship or remarries. Maintenance will also end upon the death of either spouse, although the court may require the paying spouse to carry life insurance to guarantee ongoing payment of maintenance. (750 ILCS 5/504)
"Parental responsibilities" means both parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities with respect to a child. Significant decision-making responsibility (sometimes referred to as legal custody) addresses which parent will make major decisions in their children's lives concerning education, religion, health and extracurricular activities. If the parents are not able to agree on decision-making responsibilities, the court will base it's decision on the child's best interests.
Allocation of parenting time addresses where the child or children will reside. If the parents aren't able to mutually agree on this, the court will make it's decision based on the best interests of the child. The court also presumes both parents are fit, unless it is proven that parenting time with a parent would seriously endanger the child's physical, emotional, mental or moral health. Even if a parent isn't granted significant decision-making responsibilities, he or she is still entitled to reasonable parenting time with the child.
Parents are required to submit a parenting plan within 120 days after the filing of any petition regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities. The parenting plan outlines how various issues concerning their children will be handled and addressed. The parenting plan may be submitted either separately or jointly and if the parents are in agreement, the plan will be binding. If the parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan, the court may order mediation to help the parents work through their issues (unless impediments to mediation exist).
At a minimum, the parenting plan must address:
The court may restrict parental responsibilities in certain situations where a parent's conduct could endanger the child's mental, moral, or physical health. Such situations may include: 1) abuse, neglect, or abandonment of the child; 2) allowing or abusing another person that had an impact upon the child; 3) use of alcohol or drugs to the extent it interferes with the parents ability to care for the child; and 4) alienating the child from the other parent.
A parent who has been convicted of sexual abuse of a minor is not entitled to parenting time while incarcerated or while on parole or probation and must comply with the conditions of the court to regain parenting time if it is deemed appropriate. Unless the court finds it would be in the child's best interests, a parent may not bring their child to visit anyone granted parenting time if they have been convicted of first degree murder.
(750 ILCS sections 5/600, 5/602.5, 5/602.7, 5/602.10, 5/602.11, 5/603.10)
According to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 924, divorcing parents with minor children are required to take a parenting class in Illinois, even if the divorce is uncontested. Qualifying parenting education classes consist of at least four hours instruction covering topics such as parenting time, allocation of parental responsibilities, and the impact of divorce on children. Both parents are required to attend a court-approved class and must take the class as soon as possible, but no later than 60 days after the initial case management conference.
Some courts allow online parenting classes, while others require parents to take the class in person. Be sure to verify what the requirements are and which classes are approved in your county or circuit court before signing up for an online course. Upon completion of the class, you will receive a certificate of completion which will need to be submitted to the court before your divorce will be finalized.
Illinois child support calculations are based on the Income Shares Model established by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Child support will be determined for any child under the age of 18, or a child who is less than 19 but still attending high school. The level of child support is based on the parent's combined net income and adjusted to the needs of the child and the child's physical care arrangements.
Once the parent's combined adjusted net income is determined, the court applies a basic child support obligation from the schedule that reflects what intact families normally spend on their child. A parent's net income may be adjusted to take into consideration child support or alimony obligations from other relationships.
From there, each parent's percentage share is calculated from the basic child support obligation. The parent with which the child lives is presumed to spend their share on the child. The obligated parents will pay his or her share as child support. The obligation worksheets take into consideration not only traditional custody arrangement, but also shared physical custody.
For situations where each parent has at least 146 or more overnights per year with the child, the basic child support obligation will be multiplied by 1.5. The court will then determine each parent's share of the child support obligation based on the parent's percentage share of combined net income. The child support obligation is then computed for each parent by multiplying that parent's portion of the support obligation by the percentage of time the child spends with the other parent. The respective child support obligations are then offset, with the parent owing more child support paying the difference between the child support amounts.
If the amount of child support calculated using the guidelines would be inappropriate, the court may deviate from the suggested amount of support. Factors that may be considered include the financial needs and resources of the child and the parents, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the parents had stayed married, and the physical and emotional condition of the child and his or her educational needs. Any deviation from the guidelines shall be accompanied by written findings by the court specifying the reasons for the deviation
Illinois requires a minimum child support obligation to be paid of $40 per month per child if the obligated parent's gross income is less than 75% of the Health and Human Services Federal Poverty Guidelines for one person. In these situations, the total amount of child support will be capped at $120 per month to be divided equally among all of the obligated parent's children.
In addition to child support, the court may also order health insurance coverage to be maintained for the child/children, as well as address how unreimbursed medical and dental expenses will be handled. Other issues that may also be covered are child care, extracurricular activities, and life insurance to guarantee payment of child support if the supporting parent dies. Ongoing support may also be ordered for a non-minor child with a disability.
Child support may be modified at a later date based on a substantial change in circumstances. This can include a significant change in the child's needs, any significant reduction or impairment of earning capacity of either parent, or a change in custody. Child support ends when the child becomes emancipated, dies, graduates from high school or turns 19, whichever is earlier. (750 ILCS sections 5/505, 5/505.2, 5/510, and 5/513.5)
Parenting education classes are designed to educate the parents on how conflicts over custody, visitation, and child support can affect their kids and how they can ease their divorce transition. Below are some of the various classes and programs in the state. You may also take an online parenting class if it is approved by your court. Be sure to contact your court to verify which online course will be accepted. Below is the contact information for various county and circuit courts:
Manassa Law, P.C.
Lawrence S. Manassa
777 Lake Zurich Road, Suite 130
Barrington, IL 60010
Counties Served: McHenry, Lake, Cook, DuPage, Kane
At Manassa Law, P.C., the difference makes all the difference. The attorneys at our firm are truly different and understand that divorce impacts your life in more ways than just through the legal process. While our attorneys are nationally recognized for their legal work in collaborative divorce, litigation and mediation, they are also well-equipped to understand the impact of divorce on your life as most also have a bachelor’s degrees in psychology.
Our approach is holistic and collaborative. We are also ready to assist you with child custody, visitation, paternity, maintenance and all other family law legal issues. Call us to set up a free initial consultation to learn how we can help guide you through the challenges you're facing.
Vantage Group Legal
2241 S Wabash Ave #300
Chicago, IL 60616
Counties Served: Cook
Phone: (773) 938-4747
It’s crucial to have an experienced attorney in your corner when facing family law matters. Based in Chicago, Vantage Group Legal Services has proudly been serving Cook County since 2019. Our driving purpose is to serve our customers at an affordable price by bringing together a team of highly skilled legal professionals. Our attorneys must have at least 7 years of experience in the family law field, as well as having been recognized by a reputable organization to even qualify for our network. We aim to ensure our attorneys have the highest degree of integrity and skill within their respective field of practice.
Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
1200 Harger Road, Suite 830
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Counties Served: Cook, DuPage, Will, Kane, Lake
Every divorce is different, so we will work with you to develop a road map to help you achieve the best settlement in your case. Kathryn Harry has been in practice for over 25 years and our team has extensive experience and knowledge in providing creative solutions designed to last for the long-run. Find out what your options are with a free initial consultation.
Law Office of Marjorie Sher
415 W. Washington St., Suite 201
Waukegan, IL 60085
Counties Served: Lake
Phone: (847) 249-2830
I have been providing family law services in Lake County, Illinois for the last 18 years. I'm committed to providing my clients with comprehensive and practical advice so they can make emotionally, financially and legally sound decisions in their situation. I pride myself in maintaining close communication with my clients so that each is well informed and comfortable with the process. I am a certified mediator, child representative, guardian ad litem, involved member in the Lake County Bar Association where I will serve as president (2012-2013), and an active member of the LCBA Family Law Committee.
Joshua E. Stern
1603 Orrington Ave., Suite 800
Evanston, IL 60201
Counties Served: Cook, Lake, DuPage
Phone: (847) 868-9584
We are a boutique family law firm, representing clients in all matrimonial and family law matters. We focus on attorney-client rapport and will help guide you by explaining the legal process every step of the way. We encourage amicable resolutions if possible, but will fight vigorously in court if needed to protect your rights.
Need a Divorce Lawyer? This service can help you find a pre-screened local family lawyer skilled in divorce law. By submitting details about your situation, you'll be able to respond only to the lawyers who want to help you.
Equitable Mediation Services
Phone: (312) 583-7436
Office Locations: Serving clients throughout Illinois
The decision to get a divorce is a very difficult one. You often have to make life-changing decisions with far reaching implications for you, your children, and your finances. Most people hire lawyers because they don’t realize there are other alternatives to getting divorced.
Mediating your divorce can help you do what’s best for your children and negotiate a divorce agreement in a peaceful, dignified, and cost-effective manner. As a Divorce Mediation and Divorce Coaching team, we treat you like a human being, helping you through this highly emotional period to reach a fair settlement in a reasonable period of time. Our comprehensive flat-fee approach provides you with the financial, emotional, and operational support to help you peacefully end your marriage in the most fair, cost effective and child-focused way possible.
Have all of your divorce documents filled out and completed without needing to hire an attorney! This online service helps you prepare the paperwork needed for an uncontested divorce by leading you through various questions. Your finished paperwork will be accurate and reflect current requirements for Illinois. You will also be given detailed instructions for filing your documents with the circuit court. A really good about this service is that you can access numerous books and information to make sure you make the best decisions. Start your uncontested divorce in Illinois today.
Empowered Therapy, Inc.
155 N Michigan Ave Suite 723
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 722-6932
Empowered Therapy, Inc. specializes in working with women going through a divorce and coping with the divorce process and end of the relationship. Elizabeth Burke specializes in helping women cope with and adjust to all of the changes that occur as a result of going through a divorce. Elizabeth helps women feel empowered to find happiness and fulfillment in life after the end of their marriage.
Rory Gilbert, LCSW, CADC
899 Skokie Boulevard, Suite 430
Northbrook, Illinois 60062
Phone: (847) 707-0657
I help women (and men) who are struggling with problematic marriages or who are going through the pain of divorce. Although there are many exceptions to the rule, the genders tend to take on different roles within the marriage. Men place a premium on being in control which can lead to controlling and abusive behavior, or, paradoxically, to childish, little boy like behavior. Women, on the other hand, place an emphasis on being nurturing which, when things go awry, can lead to being taken advantage of and, in the extreme, victimization. They can also fall into the trap of acting like mothers to their husband which, when the husband is acting like a little boy, is a formula for trouble.
When counseling women going through a divorce, the first order of business is to help them recover from this painful process. When a sufficient amount of healing has occurred, we can then turn our attention to their patterns of interaction that contributed to the problems. Often the goal is for women to maintain their nurturing qualities while developing the ability to be emotionally (and physically) self-protective. Sometimes when a woman becomes empowered, reconciliation becomes a possibility. Regardless of whether or not the marriage ends in divorce or new life is breathed into it, the goal is for the woman to develop the means of being in relationships in which she is respected and safe and secure.
The Lilac Tree
Providing information sessions, support groups, workshops & free referrals
1215 Church St., 2nd Floor
Evanston, IL 60201
Our mission is to provide education, support and guidance to women in the divorce process so that they and their children can move confidently towards independence.