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Waiting Period to File For Divorce in IL

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Illinois, like all other states under modern law, allows for no-fault divorce. Historically, one or both parties had to allege that their spouse committed some sort of wrongdoing–adultery, cruelty, abandonment, etc.–in order to file for divorce. The law now recognizes that parties should be free to divorce simply because their marriage is not working. Some states still require that divorcing parties wait a sufficient amount of time before filing for divorce in order to “prove” that their marriage is actually irretrievably broken. What’s the waiting period in Illinois? Continue reading to learn about the waiting period for filing for divorce in Illinois. If you are considering divorce, or if you are facing any other issues involving Illinois family law, reach out to an experienced Chicago divorce and family law attorney for advice and assistance.

The Separation Period for Divorce in Illinois

Historically, to obtain a divorce in Illinois, the parties had to show that they had been separated for at least two years. If a party alleged fault, such as intolerable cruelty, the waiting period might be shorter. Fault-based divorce is no longer the law in Illinois.

Now, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. In fact, Illinois no longer even allows parties to allege fault in a divorce petition. When a party files for divorce today, the only grounds are “irreconcilable differences.” Irreconcilable differences means that the differences or disagreements between the parties have caused the marriage to become irreparably broken. The filing party need only allege that such disagreements exist, that the marriage has broken down beyond repair, and that continued attempts to reconcile would not be in the best interests of the parties, their children, or other relevant parties.

Although fault is no longer required for an Illinois divorce, there may still be a separation period requirement. If both parties agree to the divorce (the divorce is uncontested), then there is no waiting or separation period at all–the divorce can happen immediately, so long as the residency requirements are otherwise satisfied.

If the divorce is contested, however, then the parties must live separately and apart for six months before divorcing. That means that if one party wants to prevent the divorce and argues that there are no irreconcilable differences, the party seeking divorce must show that they have lived separately for six months to prove there really are irreconcilable differences. There may, however, be grounds to establish the parties have lived separately, even if they technically still share a residence. Talk to your lawyer about how to speed up the process and avoid the waiting period where possible.

The Residency Requirement

Regardless of whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the parties must still satisfy the “residency” requirements in order to get the case before an Illinois court. Residency is more about giving the Illinois court jurisdiction to hear the case rather than establishing facts about the marriage.

The Illinois residency requirement is 90 days. At least one spouse must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days before obtaining a divorce. It’s sufficient for one spouse to reside in Illinois, even if the other does not. If the divorce will involve custody issues for minor children, however, the parties must have lived in Illinois for at least six months.


If you are considering divorce or dealing with child custody, allocation of parental responsibilities, spousal support, or any other family law issue in Illinois, contact the accomplished and effective Carol Stream family law attorneys at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt for a consultation on your case at 630-665-9600.

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