Illinois Divorce Laws

Thinking about filing for divorce in Illinois? Learn what the laws will allow before you do.

Who Can File for Divorce in IL and on What Grounds

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. If the spouses have lived apart and separate for a continuous period of over two years due to irreconcilable differences, and reconciliation is not practical or in the best interests of the families, the courts may grant divorce. The two-year stipulation is sometimes waived in favor of a six month period when both spouses file.

For fault divorce, the following reasons are acceptable:

  • One party is naturally impotent
  • The respondent had another living spouse at the time of the marriage
  • Adultery
  • Willful desertion for one year
  • Habitual drunkenness for two years
  • Habitual drug use and addiction for two years
  • Extreme and repeated cruelty, either physical or mental
  • Felony or criminal conviction
  • Infection of a sexually transmitted disease on the petitioner by the respondent

Those who serve in the military may benefit from seeking the counsel of an attorney, because establishing residency can be tricky for members of the military stationed in Illinois or living in Illinois and stationed elsewhere. Also, they must be sure they follow the military’s protocol for seeking divorce.

Division of Property

Illinois follows the equitable distribution model for distributing property after a divorce when the couple cannot agree. This does not mean that property is distributed equally, but rather that it is distributed fairly. Factors considered when making these determinations include:

  • Whether any property was acquired by a gift, descent, or legacy
  • Any property that was acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage or property acquired by gift, legacy, or descent
  • Property a spouse purchases after a legal separation
  • Property excluded by a legal agreement between the parties
  • Any judgment or property given to the spouse from the other spouse
  • Increase in value of properties
  • Income from properties
  • Properties acquired before the marriage
  • Contributions of parties to the purchase, preservation, or value of the items
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Economic circumstances of parties
  • Dissipation of each party on the property
  • Desire to award family home to the custodial parent
  • Any prenuptial agreement
  • Tax consequences

Child Custody

Illinois awards child custody based on the child’s best interests and not the conduct during the marriage. Factors considered include:

  • The child’s parents’ wishes
  • The child’s wishes
  • Interaction and relationship between the child and the parents, siblings, and others who have an affect on the child’s best interests
  • The adjustment of the child to home, community, and school
  • Mental and physical health of all involved
  • Any threat of physical violence toward the child or another person by a potential custodian
  • Ongoing abuse toward child or another person
  • Willingness of the parents to foster a close, continuing relationship between the child and the other parent

A joint custody arrangement will be used whenever it is in the child’s best interests.


Not all cases in Illinois end up with spousal support. This will be determined on a case by case basis. Factors the court may look at include:

  • Income and property of each party
  • Needs of each party
  • Earning capacity of each party
  • Impairment of the present and future income of each party due to delayed education, training, or employment
  • Time required for the party seeking support to get training for a job
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Age, physical needs, and emotional condition of both parties
  • Tax consequences
  • Contributions of one spouse to the training and career advancement of the other
  • Agreements between the parties

Illinois uses the Percentage of Income formula when determining child support. This charges the non-custodial parent a percentage of his or her income per child as child support. This can be adjusted as needed based on the financial resources and needs of the parents and children, the child’s standard of living prior to the divorce, the physical, emotional, and educational needs of the child, and the financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.