Where You Live Matters – When It Comes to Your Divorce

June 27, 2023

If you think about it, no one should have to go to the county (or even country) where they got married just to get divorced. Many couples choose to get married in far flung spots and have no other ties to the place, other than they got married there. So what are the residencey requirements and laws to get divorced in Illinois?


There are laws stating that in order to access certain services or benefits (in this case, a divorce), certain criteria must be met by at least one of the parties involved, but possibly not both. Those criteria usually include having lived in that state for a defined period of time prior to filing for a divorce in that particular state. These requirements vary from state to state and can range from as little as 90 days up to two years. In Illinois, one person has to have lived in Illinois 90 days unless you have children together.


In some cases, if both spouses live out of state, where neither has met residency requirements, then where you file may also depend on which state both parties agree would be best suited to handle the case or where they lived last. This is pretty rare. Alternatively, if both parties are temporarily away from home, such as a deployment, then they can usually file in the place they consider home. There are a few other rare exceptions that allow parties to file thier divorce in a county where they may not live, but these are really, really rare.


If you have children, the residency requirements are a bit different in Illinois. Your divorce has to be filed in the county where you children have lived for the last six months in most cases. Again, there are a few exceptions to that issue as well. But, for the most part, your case gets filed where your children live under a provision called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act.


But what happens if only one person lives in Illinois? Illinois only requires one party to be living in the State – not both. If there are children, they have to live with the Illinois resident.


But then you ask, can I just file in any county? This used to be so, but now, a case has to be filed in the county where someone lives. If the spouses live in different counties, the law allows the case to be filed in either county of residence. Again, there are some exceptions to this rule, but these are pretty uncommon.


Why Does This Matter?


Knowing which court will have jurisdiction over your case is vital not only so you can confirm whether or not you have enough ties with a particular state but also because it helps you determine which laws will apply during your divorce proceedings. This can make all the difference when it comes time for a judge or mediator deciding on things such as parenting times or spousal support payments since each state has its own set of laws governing these topics and ensuring everyone abides by those specific rules throughout each step of the process helps ensure fairness and justice during such an emotional time in life. This is why an attorney has to be licensed in the state in which they practice law. The laws surrounding how maintenance is handled, or parenting time is decided vary from state to state.


Whether you just got married or were married for years before deciding on going through a divorce, understanding residency requirements is key if you want your case heard by a fair and just court system – and the right one. Having your case filed in the wrong place might cause unintended problems. The biggest one is the divorce itself might be thrown out, which is a costly mistake when you add in filing fees.


So no, if you got married in Vegas, you do not have to get divorced in Vegas (unless you also still live there). If you live in Illinois, and you and your spouse can agree on things, reach out to my office. You can either contract me through my website or call my office.