Divorce Overview

Deciding whether to end your marriage is an extremely difficult decision to make. If you are unsure whether you want to go through a divorce, you should try to learn a little about divorce law before making your decision. If you decide to go through with a divorce, it is important that you contact an attorney who has the expertise necessary to help you through this difficult time.

Grounds for Divorce

A divorce dissolves a marriage through a judicial decree. A divorce accomplishes many things. It will split up the couple's property and debt, determine which parent will raise and live with the children, and give both parties the right to remarry.

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. This means that it is not necessary to show that the other party is at fault in order to get a divorce. In Illinois, if both parties agree in writing, the only requirement to getting a divorce is that the couple has lived apart for six months. If only one spouse wants the divorce, it is necessary to be living apart for a period of two years. In addition, there are nine grounds for fault based divorce in Illinois. To get a fault based divorce in Illinois, you must show adultery, impotency, cruelty, conviction of a felony, infliction of an STD, abandonment for one year, drunkenness for one year, gross habits due to excessive drug use for two years, or attempted murder.

Due to the specificity of Illinois law concerning divorce it is important that you seek assistance from a family law attorney who is knowledgeable about Illinois divorce law so that you know what your options are.

Issues Resolved During Divorce

The following issues will be resolved during the divorce process:

  • Division of property and debt
  • Alimony or spousal support
  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Visitation

The divorce is considered uncontested if both spouses can agree on all of these issues. However, if they do not agree on these issues, then the divorce is considered contested. If the divorce is contested then the parties can have these issues resolved at a trial, where a family court judge will likely decide. However, it is possible to use alternative dispute resolution instead of going to trial. Illinois courts can even order that the parties use alternative dispute resolution before going to trial. Alternative dispute resolution includes:

  • Mediation. Mediation is when the parties work with a professional mediator to resolve issues that are in dispute. Mediation tends to be less stressful and cheaper than going to trial.
  • Arbitration. Arbitration is when the parties use an arbitrator instead of a judge to resolve their dispute. Each party will have their own attorney during the arbitration process. While arbitration is more similar to a trial than mediation, it is still generally less expensive and faster.
  • Collaborative Divorce. Collaborative divorce is when the parties commit up-front to resolve disagreements by negotiating and compromising. If either side decides to take the dispute to court, both of the attorneys who represented the spouses during the process are disqualified and they must find new attorneys. This is a relatively new concept.

Alimony, Maintenance, and Spousal Support

Alimony is money paid by one spouse to the other for the purpose of financial support. Alimony is also referred to as maintenance and spousal support. Alimony can be paid in one lump sum, over a period of time, or indefinitely. In determining whether alimony should be awarded, Illinois courts look at a number of different factors, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, the earning capacity of each party, lost opportunities due to the marriage, and the care taking needs of the children. Due to the differences between Illinois and other states in determining alimony, it is best to seek counsel with an attorney who is knowledgeable about Illinois law.

Dividing Property in Non-Community Property States

Illinois is a non-community property state. In a non-community property system, courts normally divide property between spouses in an equitable manner. Equitable means fair, it does not mean equal. Illinois courts determine what is equitable based on a number of different factors including the contributions of each party, the length of the marriage, and opportunities for future income.


Divorce can be extremely difficult for all of the parties involved. It is important to see an attorney who has the expertise necessary to ensure that you and your children make it through this transition as smoothly as possible. Call us at 630-665-2500 or e-mail us here to a consultation.

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