Divorce in Illinois

Legal Aid helps with questions, lists reasons to retain lawyer

April 25, 2011

[Note: also see “Getting a Divorce in Chicago.”]

By Mike Hinshaw

The simplest form of divorce in the Prairie State is a specialized form of uncontested divorce known as a Joint Simplified Divorce.

Qualifying for Joint Simplified Divorce

According to this Illinois Legal Aid Web page, the qualifications are pretty stringent and are as follows:

To get a Joint Simplified Divorce:

  • You and your spouse must agree on everything in your divorce case
  • You must be married for less than 8 years
  • You must not have any children together
  • You must own no real estate
  • You must be separated for at least 6 months
  • Together you must make less than $35,000 a year

Why to hire an attorney

Another page at the site addresses one of the most common questions asked by anyone facing divorce:

Do I need a lawyer to help me with my divorce case?

Going to court can be confusing, so you may feel more comfortable having a lawyer represent you in court.

If your divorce case is complicated, you may want to talk with a lawyer to know your legal rights.

You may want to talk with a lawyer if:

  • You and your spouse disagree about where the children should live
  • You and your spouse disagree about how much child support should be paid
  • You and your spouse disagree about who should get certain property
  • You and your spouse own a house or other real estate together
  • You or your spouse have retirement pensions
  • You and your spouse have a lot of debt
  • Your spouse has hired a lawyer to represent them in court
  • You are afraid of your spouse

No fault: ‘irreconcilable differences’

‘Illinois is a “no-fault” state in the sense that state code provides grounds such “That the spouses have lived separate and apart for a continuous period in excess of 2 years and irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the court determines that efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.”

However, the two-year requirement may be waived if the spouses have lived separately for six months and so stipulate in writing.

Illinois state law allows variety of grounds for divorce

Other grounds included in the code are if the respondent (the spouse being sued) is/was:

  • “naturally impotent”
  • a bigamist
  • adulterous
  • a willful deserter of the petitioner for one year
  • an habitual drunkard for two 2 years
  • guilty of gross and confirmed habits caused by the excessive use of addictive drugs for two years
  • guilty of attempting the death of the other by poison or other means showing malice
  • extremely and repeatedly demonstrative of physical or mental cruelty
  • convicted of a felony or other infamous crime
  • guilty of  infecting the other with a sexually transmitted disease.


And that’s where we come in–If you’re ready to begin the search for a compatible, well trained, experienced divorce attorney, you can start with our free case evaluation. If you need more information, please browse our site, using the tabs at the top of the page.

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