As Chicago divorce attorneys, we’re often asked if there is a residency requirement in order to file for divorce in Chicago. While a simple question, the answer involves legal concepts like “jurisdiction” and “venue” that are important to determine where you should file for divorce.
Understanding Divorce Jurisdiction, Venue, and How it Applies to You
A divorce case is not filed with a state or a city court but with a county court.
Personal jurisdiction is the power a court has over an individual. Satisfying the personal jurisdiction requirement for a divorce in Illinois is simple. The requirement is based solely on a party’s residency. The law in Illinois says:
(a) the court shall enter a judgment of dissolution of marriage when at the time the action was commenced one of the spouses was a resident of this State or was stationed in this State while a member of the armed service, and the residence or military presence had been maintained for 90 days. [750 ILCS (401(a)]
Which state you file for divorce in cannot be waived or agreed upon with your spouse. Venue refers to the county in which a divorce is filed. Venue can be waived by the parties. Illinois law states that you must file for divorce in the county in which you or your spouse lives. If you live in a different county from your spouse, a divorce case may be filed in either county. The law in Illinois states:
“Venue. The proceedings shall be had in the county where the plaintiff or defendant resides.” [750 ILCS 5/104(a)]
Where do I file for divorce?
In which state can I file for divorce?
First, you must determine which State is appropriate to file for divorce. In general, you should file for divorce in the state where you reside. You may also file for divorce in the state in which your spouse lives.
In which county can I file for divorce?
Next, you must determine which county to file for divorce in. Similarly, the county in which you file should be the same as where you or your spouse lives in.
How do I determine my “residency” for divorce?
For the purposes of divorce, residency is determined by the intent of one of the parties to have a “permanent home.” Garrison v. Garrison, 246 NE 2d 9 – Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 1969.
You can prove the intent to reside in a particular county with testimony and supplemental evidence. For example, a party can say, “I work in Chicago, but I live in Bolingbrook.” The statement is the testimony, and a job offer letter or paystub would be the supplemental evidence.
Is there a residency requirement to file for divorce in Chicago?
Yes, there is a residency requirement to file for divorce in Chicago. Chicago is in Cook County, Illinois. Therefore, if you live in Chicago, you may file for divorce in Cook County. If you live in Bolingbrook, Illinois, you may file for divorce in Will County.
To file in Chicago, you or your spouse must have been living in Illinois for 90 days prior to filing or 90 days prior to entry of a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. A Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage is the final order that a judge signs to make the divorce official.
How soon can I file for divorce in Chicago if I just moved?
There is no waiting period to file for divorce in Chicago. You can file for divorce the day you move to Chicago! However, a judgment can only be granted once a party has lived in Illinois for 90 days.
Can I file for divorce in Illinois if I live in another state?
You may be able to file for divorce in Illinois if you live in another state if your spouse lives in Illinois. For example, if you live in Wisconsin, but your spouse lives in Illinois, you may file for divorce in either Wisconsin or Illinois. However, you should be cautious about where you file if you cannot easily travel to a state for important court proceedings. While many courthouses in Illinois are still using Zoom for their day-to-day proceedings, some courts and judges will order the parties to be physically present for their court dates.
If you are still deciding in which state to file for divorce, it is best to talk to a Chicago divorce lawyer about where to file. The different laws in each state may provide different benefits or disadvantages for your specific situation.
What if I have kids?
The jurisdiction rules apply when filing for divorce with children. However, there are other factors to consider. The court needs to have jurisdiction over the children, too, in order to make decisions about their lives. A court has jurisdiction to make decisions about children’s custody if the court is in the child’s “Home State.” The home state of a child is where that child has lived with a parent for six consecutive months. If a child has lived in more than one state in the past six months, then a court will have to make a determination if it is the correct state to make decisions about the child. A court can do this by determining which state has the most direct relationship with the child.
Schedule a Consultation with our Chicago Divorce Attorneys
If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Chicago, be sure to speak with an experienced divorce attorney first to get the peace of mind you need to move forward with confidence. Schedule your consultation to see how our legal team of skilled Chicago divorce attorneys can assist you with your family law needs. Contact us today to get started.