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Illinois Divorce: The Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Procedure

In Illinois, the law sets out a simplified divorce procedure for some childless couples with few assets and modest income. This streamlined process allows eligible spouses to legally divorce relatively easily and quickly.

Because this type of simple divorce does require the parties to give up significant legal rights, it is a good idea for anyone contemplating using this procedure to first discuss it with a family law attorney to be sure the simplified process is a smart choice under the particular circumstances of the marriage in question.

Here are the main requirements for a simplified dissolution as laid out by Illinois divorce law:

  • The right to spousal support, also called alimony or spousal maintenance, must be waived by each party, and each must understand that talking to a lawyer might help him or her understand if he or she would be otherwise eligible for that support.
  • At least one of the spouses must have lived in or been stationed in the military in Illinois for at least 90 days.
  • "Irreconcilable differences" must have caused an "irretrievable breakdown" of the marriage, and attempts to reconcile must have failed, would not work or are not in the couple's best interest.
  • The spouses must have lived apart for at least six months.
  • The couple can have no biological children, cannot have adopted children during the marriage and the wife cannot think she is pregnant by the husband.
  • The marriage must have last no more than eight years.
  • Neither spouse may own or have a legal interest in any real estate.
  • The fair market value of all cumulative marital property, after deducting debt owed on that property, must be under $10,000 in total.
  • Neither party may make more than $20,000 yearly nor may the couple make more than $35,000 in combination.
  • Assets and tax returns for all years of the marriage must have been disclosed to each other.
  • The spouses must agree in writing how they will divide assets worth more than $100 and how they will divide all debts.

The court will handle the case "expeditiously", including holding a hearing at which the parties may be required to testify. The judge will grant the simplified divorce as long as all the eligibility and certification requirements are met, and he or she does not find the agreement "unconscionable," meaning grossly unfair to one of the parties.

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