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Getting a divorce in Illinois

To get the divorce process started, an individual must first file a petition and pay the fee. In Illinois, a divorce cannot be granted until at least one member of the marriage has lived in the state for at least 90 days. In order to successfully divorce, the two spouses must come to an agreement with regard to the custody of their children, the division of any property they may own and all financial matters. If they cannot come to an agreement, a judge will make a decision on these matters for them.

A spouse must prove a grounds for divorce before it is granted. Many times, spouses cite irreconcilable differences as grounds. However, one can file on other grounds as well, such as drug abuse, physical violence or adultery. In Illinois, a no-fault divorce only pertains to the division of property and finances and does not imply one or the other party's responsibility for the divorce.

In a marriage, property includes everything from furniture to stocks and investments. This can also include debt. Illinois law requires that all property be divided "equitably," meaning that the court takes into account how much each spouse contributed to the marriage property, each spouse's current financial situation and each spouse's prospects of acquiring more assets in the future.

Ending a marriage is a big step in one's life. Though it is not necessary to hire an attorney, self representation is not generally advisable if the divorcing couple must come to an agreement on children, property or debt. An attorney can help with the divorce process whether or not a trial is necessary. If a divorcing spouse does not anticipate a trial, he or she may still benefit from legal advice and assistance in coming to a favorable agreement with the other spouse.

Source: Illinois State Bar Association , "Your Guide to Getting a Divorce in Illinois", October 11, 2014

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