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Divorce Law in Illinois

How to Find an Illinois Divorce Attorney

Illinois resident, Oprah, has never been divorced. Of course, that could have something to do with the fact that she’s never been married. Regardless, here’s a quote that you may ring true to you:

Don’t wait for someone else to complete you. “Jerry Maguire” was just a movie.


If you are considering divorce and are researching Illinois divorce lawyers, you are likely looking for a fresh start, but are unsure of how to proceed. If so, we’ve written this article for you.

In this article (which is based upon Illinois divorce law), we’ll discuss:

  • Illinois specific divorce law requirements;
  • What you need to know about divorce;
  • Whether it’s in your best interest to hire an Illinois divorce lawyer;
  • How to find a good divorce lawyer; and
  • How to prepare to work with your divorce lawyer.

Illinois Divorce Law Specifics

  • Illinois requires that either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 90 days prior to filing for divorce.
  • You must state the grounds for divorce when you file for divorce. You can choose between “no-fault” and “fault” divorce.
    • No-fault means that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
    • Fault grounds include impotence, bigamy, drunkenness, desertion, drug use, abuse and cruelty, felony conviction, and STD infection.

Consult with your divorce attorney for good legal advice; it may be in your best interests to proceed under a no-fault claim even if your spouse has behaved badly.

  • In Illinois property distribution will be based upon what’s “equitable” (i.e. fair) and child support will be based the Percentage of Income Formula.
  • Spousal support (i.e. alimony) is available in some cases.

What You Need to Know About Divorce

In this section, we’ll highlight the aspects of divorce that will help you this most. It is likely in your best interests to:

  • Go into divorce negotiations, knowing that you will compromise along the line. Say, “yes”, unless you have a really good reason for saying “no”. (By cooperating, you’ll end up getting more of what you want in the end.)

  • Use a therapist to deal with the anger, loss, sadness, and fear associated with your divorce. Keep in mind that your children and your divorce lawyer are not your therapists.

  • If you follow your divorce attorney’s advice, you will be in control of your legal fees and can keep them to a minimum.

  • Hire a divorce attorney who is experienced in working collaboratively and supports mediation. Hiring an overly aggressive shark to exact revenge always backfires.

Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with an Illinois Divorce Lawyer?

Technically, you are able to represent yourself through an Illinois divorce; in practicality, representing yourself is likely a very bad idea.

  • Attorneys who go through divorce hire divorce lawyers.
  • One mistake may cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • One mistake may cost you time with your children.
  • If you give up any marital rights during divorce, you may be forever barred from asserting them in Illinois courts.

How to Find and Select an Illinois Divorce Attorney

In our online world, you can easily Google “How to Find a Illinois Divorce Attorney” or you can ask loved ones for referrals.

  • Make sure that potential attorneys focus their practice on divorce law, family law, or matrimonial law and are licensed in the state of Illinois.
  • Good divorce attorneys will answer questions before you hire them. For example, ask about:
    • Fee structure
    • Mediation, negotiations, and litigation approaches to divorce
    • Expected timing of the process
    • Communication process between you and the firm
  • Choose the divorce attorney that you feel meets your needs.

How to Prepare to Work with Your Divorce Attorney

Here is a checklist that will help you to prepare to work with your divorce attorney:

  • Consider reconciliation. Are you sure all reconciliation attempts have been exhausted?
  • Consult with a therapist. If you are like most people, the emotional aspects of divorce need to be addressed so you can move on effectively.
  • Gather financial documents. You’ll need information from loan applications, bank and investment account statements, tax returns, bills, expenses, and income sources.
  • Make a wish list. What do you want out of the divorce? What are the “must haves” and the “wishes”?
  • Make a list of questions. What do you wish to discuss with your lawyer during your next conversation?

Here’s a second Oprah quote that many of us who have experienced divorce find poignant. Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.

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