Even the word, “divorce” can cause cold sweats, but sometimes, couples need it. To lessen this apprehension, understanding the basics can help.
Before filing, it is important to know whether one qualifies to divorce here. First, one does not need to file for a divorce where one was actually married. To file in Illinois though, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days.
Next, the divorce filing can be contested, wherein both spouses do not agree on the divorce or matters within the divorce, or uncontested, where both spouses agree. Uncontested divorces are not uncommon, but they are not the norm because all the issues must be agreed upon prior to the filing. This is often not the case.
If the non-filing spouse does not respond to the divorce petition by filing an Appearance and Answer, the court will classify the divorce as uncontested. This means that the family court judge will make all their decisions based on the requests of the filing spouse.
As for timelines, the process depends the circumstances. Illinois also has a shorter and easier divorce process entitled, Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. The Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is the quickest, and a contested divorce can take 18 months or more.
To qualify for the Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, spouses must meet ALL legal requirements set forth in Sections 2(a)-2(j) in Form CCDR 19 (Affidavit in Support of Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage). Some factors include that the marriage is less than 8 years, there are no children or dependents, no spousal support or real estate holdings, and all marital/civil union property (after deducting all debts) is less than $10,000.
For those with children, our state has specific forms. These include the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union (Divorce With Children), Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union (Divorce With Children), a Parenting Plan, Summons (when needed), and an Entry of Appearance (Petition for Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union) (when needed).
For all petitions though, the filer must prove to the family law judge that there are “irreconcilable differences” between the spouses. If the couple has been living separately for 6 months, the judge will find that irreconcilable differences exist. If not, this can be a bit more complicated, which is why the courts recommend that filers consult an attorney.