Getting a divorce in Illinois is governed by statute, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This act lists the grounds for divorce in Illinois, residency requirements, procedures for notice and service, child support, spousal support and property division. At one time spouses could only be divorced if they had specific grounds for divorce. Divorce was based on who was at fault based on the religious and economic considerations involved.

Women were considered property in some instances, and a woman who was found at fault in divorce faced the loss of her children as well as her financial stability. Fortunately, Illinois like all other states in the United States now allows fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Misconduct by either party does not affect property division.

The Illinois divorce statute has retained all of the traditional grounds for divorce such as adultery, impotence, habitual drunkenness, or drug use, desertion, bigamy, attempting the life of another by poison or other means of malice, repeated extreme mental or physical cruelty, conviction of a felony or other infamous crime, and infecting the other spouse with a sexually transmitted disease.

The Illinois divorce statute now allows for irreconcilable differences with a separation of two years or less depending upon the individual circumstances. One of the parties to the divorce must have resided in Illinois for 90 days prior to the filing.

Illinois statutes require that the divorce filing be made in the county where the marriage was conducted or the county in which either party resides. Getting divorced is just part of the process; additionally in divorce proceedings the court will determine child and/or spousal support if it is appropriate, child custody and visitation and property division, also known as division of the marital estate.

The court in a divorce proceeding will determine custody based on what is in the best interest of the children. Mothers are generally given custody in the majority of cases, but as fathers have become more active in child rearing, it is not unusual for a father to be named the custodial parent.

Property division is also under the jurisdiction of the court in an Illinois divorce proceeding. Parties have to file financial reports, and may be subject to depositions, interrogatories and subpoenas in complex cases. A significant portion of the costs associated with divorce can be attributed to the costs of determining the extent and division of the marital estate. Marital property includes all property obtained during the marriage regardless of which spouse holds title to it, unless it falls under a specific category of property that is determined by statute to be non-marital property. A woman who has out-earned her husband should prepare herself for the possibility that she may be paying alimony.


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