Illinois Divorce Law

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What are the grounds for divorce in Illinois?

Prior to 1984, Illinois divorce law required residents to show "fault" (such as adultery or cruelty) as a basis for proving marriage breakdown. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act now allows couples to file for divorce using "no-fault" grounds: under current Illinois divorce law, marriage breakdown is now indicated and divorce can occur if the husband and wife have been separated for as little as six months (if both parties agree) or for two years (if there is no agreement). In this state, divorce is officially called a "dissolution of marriage" -- a term used by the courts and all legal papers. Instead of o-fault, you may use one of the following grounds in order to obtain a divorce:

1) That your spouse:

• was at the time of your marriage and continues to be impotent;
• had a living wife or husband at the time of your marriage;
• committed adultery during your marriage;
• willfully deserted you for at least one year;
• has been guilty of habitual drunkenness or drug abuse for two years;
• has physically or mentally abused you, or tried to kill you;
• has been convicted of a felony;
• has infected you with a sexually transmitted disease

2) In a no-fault case in Illinois divorce law, you must show that you and your spouse have lived separately and apart:

• and irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage;
• or reconciliation has failed or would be impracticable.

Of these "fault" (section one) and "no fault" (section two) options, the separation period is the most straightforward and easiest to prove. It's possible to deem yourselves as "living separate and apart" while within the same dwelling, although this is more difficult to prove. You must be living entirely independent lives -- each doing your own cooking, laundry, and home maintenance for example -- and of course not sharing the same bed, according to Illinois divorce law.


In Illinois divorce law, the court declares the marriage contract broken; in an annulment, the court says that there never was a marriage. Annulment (known as "Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage" in Illinois) is more difficult to prove -- and much rarer -- than divorce. To go this route, you will need to speak to an Illinois divorce attorney. If you want an annulment for religious reasons, consult with your priest, minister, or rabbi as well.


You'll need to provide your divorce lawyer with the following documentation in order to proceed with your dissolution, according to Illinois divorce law. Start gathering everything together as soon as possible so that you can find out what might be missing and submit any requests for duplicates.

Personal Data

• Full addresses and phone numbers of both parties.
• Full names, birth dates, and addresses of all children of the marriage, their school and grade.
• Information about any prior marriage of either spouse, including a certified copy of the divorce decree.
• A copy of any domestic contracts (e.g. a prenuptial agreement).
• Information about any previous legal proceedings in Illinois divorce law between the spouses or involving any of the children.
• Dates and particulars about any previous separations, attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counseling.

Financial Data

• Your previous year's income tax return (two prior years' returns, if available), and any related data from the IRS.
• Information about your current income (e.g. a current pay slip).
• A list of substantial assets and liabilities of both spouses.
• Loan applications, broker's statements, stock certificates, insurance.
• Most recent statement of all accounts and credit cards.
Martha chan is the V.P. Marketing of Divorce Magazine and which offers information on Illinois divorce lawyers, Illinois divorce law, Illinois family law and Illinois family law

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