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We can help you with your divorce in Illinois.

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Written by Olivia St. Clair Long, JD on 10.10.18

The vast majority of divorce cases are settled without entering a courtroom, either through mediation or a technique called collaborative divorce. However, we recognize that some divorce cases are much more contentious; they may involve abuse or trauma, thus making the legal process of dissolving a marriage far more difficult. We have experience navigating this path, and are here to help you protect yourself, your children, and your future.

There are some basic parameters for obtaining a divorce in Illinois that apply no matter your circumstances. Understanding these can help you start to make sense of the next steps you will need to take.

Grounds for Divorce in the State of Illinois

Illinois only allows for no-fault divorce. You have likely heard of the phrase “irreconcilable differences;” this is the basis for all divorce cases in Illinois. Irreconcilable differences simply means that both parties agree that the marriage has broken down beyond repair and cannot be saved. While in years past, Illinois required a period of separation (living apart for up to 2 years), this is no longer the case. If both spouses agree they wish to divorce, proceedings begin immediately upon filing. It is important to understand that while it is absolutely correct that a spouse may engage in behavior that led to the breakdown of the marriage, including adultery, abandonment, or domestic violence, these are no longer considered for purposes of declaring one party to be at fault in a divorce proceeding. A divorce will only be granted on the basis of irreconcilable differences in the state of Illinois.


Before you may file for divorce in Illinois, you or your spouse must have resided in the state of Illinois for at least 90 days.

Distribution of Assets

Illinois is an equitable distribution of assets state. Other states may have a “community property” philosophy wherein assets are split 50/50. Equitable distribution means that assets are distributed fairly, which is not necessarily equally.

Petition of Dissolution

Divorce proceedings begin when you or your spouse files for divorce. Only one party must file in order to begin the process.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce

If you and your spouse are in full agreement on the terms of a divorce, you will have an uncontested divorce. If you have disagreements about what the terms of your divorce should be, then you have a contested divorce. Not all contested divorces require litigation. Before litigating, there are other avenues to consider to bring about a resolution, including mediation or arbitration, as well as simply negotiation between counsel for both spouses.


Prior to ending up in court, discovery will begin. Discovery is the phase prior to trial during which both sides make demands for documents, depose parties or witnesses, and other documentation that will help them present their case at trial. There will be pre-trial hearings and conferences during which counsel will lay out the positions of their clients. If the case still cannot be resolved it will move to trial. During trial, witnesses may be called, and the court will make a final ruling.

The Law Office of Olivia St. Clair Long has specific expertise in helping people navigate this process, particularly in situations involving narcissistic abuse, domestic violence, or other trauma. We can help negotiate child custody agreements, child support decrees, and more so that you can protect yourself and your children.

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