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Divorce in Illinois: Your Complete Starter Guide

Last updated: June 04, 2019
Divorce in Illinois: a Guide To Divorce Process in Illinois

If you're getting a divorce in Illinois, the "Prairie State," you may be anxious and wondering how the state law views divorce. It's normal to fret over such a huge life change, but we've got all of the basic facts for you on the divorce process so you can start to get prepped and feel informed. From understanding basics on filing to basics on property division and more, this article can give you an overview of what to expect as you file for divorce.

Types of Divorce In Illinois: Fault-Based & No-Fault

A "dissolution of marriage" in Illinois is based on three types of grounds: fault-based or no-fault, or, if the two of you have lived apart for twenty-four months, then no proof of grounds or marital problems are legally necessary. This means that even if one person wants to file no-fault without the spouse agreeing, you can do so in the eyes of the court.

However, most people choose the no-fault route by stating the marriage is irrevocably broken and impossible to repair.

If this is the route you and your spouse are choosing, here are some basics you need to know:

  • You or your spouse must have lived in Illinois before filing for at least 90 days… OR
  • If you ask to file no-fault, you and your spouse must have been living apart for at least 6 months
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What about a fault-based complaint?

Filing for a fault-based divorce will more complicated than no-fault, so keep that in mind. Another fact about divorce law in Illinois is filing for a fault-based divorce won't help you in regards to property division, typically. Judges do not factor fault in when it comes to property division in Illinois in most cases.

Here are examples of reasons people file for fault-based divorce in Illinois:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment (over a 12 month period)
  • Abuse (physical—attempting to murder or hurt a spouse)
  • Addition (Alcohol, Drugs, etc.)
  • Bigamy
  • Impotence
  • Jail Conviction (felony—not misdemeanor)
  • And other reasons

As you can see, these grounds would make finalizing a divorce more complicated.

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Other Facts to Know About Filing

There are two types of divorce: uncontested or contested. Contested means the spouses don't agree to various matters and uncontested means that both parties do agree. In the case of a contested divorce, this can make the divorce drag on. Often parties are fighting over matters such as: where children should live (custody matters), child support issues, property division squabbles, martial debt issues and alimony. In the case of an uncontested divorce where all parties agree, the divorce agreement must still get a final approval by a judge, whose goal is to determine that the agreement is reasonable enough and will support the children of the marriage if there are any.

Property Division & Others Matters Regarding Divorce In Illinois

Like many other states, Illinois and Illinois courts supports equitable division. This means that:

  • Property earned during the marriage= martial property.
  • Property earned before marriage or given by inheritance or a gift during the marriage= non-marital property.

Marital property is what the judge will divide, but the non-martial property will stay with the owner.

Some other facts you need to know about property division:
  • Just because Illinois is an equitable division state does not mean that all of your marital property will be divided right in half because the court chooses how to divide the property on what it deems as "fair".
  • If you two can decide how to divide the property together, this will help your divorce move along.
  • There are factors that come into place when considering how to divide up these assets, such as: prenuptial agreements, who makes more money or has more work experience, training or skills; the value of each asset and property; any issues regarding perhaps a previous marriage; how long you were both married; the health of both of you; if one of you destroyed any marital assets; tax matters, etc.
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Matters of Child Custody & Child Support

Here are two other big issues often fretted over during the divorce process: child custody and child support.


Generally, the Illinois courts want both parents to have as much time as possible with the child and favor a joint custody situation. Ultimately, whatever is in the best interest of the child/children is how the judge will determine the final say on the custody schedule. Here are a few factors (but not all) that the judge will consider when deciding on child custody matters:

  • The child's relationship to where the child is/will live in terms of the child's home, school and community life
  • Both parents mental and physical health
  • If any matters of abuse or domestic violence have been raised, this will play into the final custody decision
  • If a parent is a military member, the judge will consider this person's deployment schedule
  • If a parent is a sex offender
  • Other factors

Overall, the court really wants both parents involved as long as both parents have healthy relationships with the children.


Child support is calculated on how many overnights or time the parents spend with the children and how much each person makes. Keep in mind: if you are divorcing and have children, the court system of Illinois requires you to take a parenting class before your divorce and custody schedule is finalized. The goal is for both parents to understand how to help children succeed and be happy after divorce.

Getting Some Support For Your Divorce In Illinois

There are a lot of questions you still have, but the good news is there are many people and professionals here to help you along your divorce journey.

This is a great checklist with resources you'll need to make the divorce process as smooth as possible:
Focus Area Organization Website
Divorce Professionals National Association of Divorce Professionals (NADP)
Divorce Coach Certified Divorced Coaches (CDC) CertifiedDivorceCoach.com
Financial Planners Association of Divorce Financial Planners (ADFP) DivorceAndFinance.org
Lawyer Avvo Avvo.com

How Can Worthy Help

Without a doubt, the team at Worthy is here for you on your divorce journey, from making that insomnia-inducing decision to divorce, to moving on with peace in your heart and thriving in a whole new life after your divorce is final. One of the biggest things we can do at Worthy is help you sell your engagement ring and diamond jewelry for more by providing insured shipping (up to $100,000!), 3rd party diamond grading and professional photos, shown to hundreds of buyers ready to bid on it. Our highly respected online auction house brings together vetted top buyers and sellers just like you, going through the exact same situation and life change, to get the best value for your engagement ring and other diamond jewelry, in a safe and transparent environment.

Of course…it's not always easy to let go of jewelry sprung from a previous marriage and past love, but when you're ready to say goodbye to the old, we're here. In fact, selling your old engagement ring, wedding band and jewelry from your broken marriage is a great way to get out bad energy and earn money towards your financial goals, post-divorce. Here's to a brighter future!

Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice on any subject matter. Consult with an attorney for more information regarding your individual situation.

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