Filing for Divorce in Illinois When Married in Florida

by John Cromwell

You are permitted to file for divorce in Illinois if you were married in Florida, provided you and your spouse meet certain criteria. What you are able to ask the court to do in terminating your marriage may be limited. Once the limits of what the court can do are defined, the process for terminating an out-of-state marriage is the same as terminating an in-state marriage.

Step 1

Determine if an Illinois court has subject matter jurisdiction. An Illinois court may process a divorce so long as one spouse has been a resident of the state for at least 90 days. However, if child custody is to be determined by the court, the children must have lived in Illinois for at least six months before you file for divorce. You can file for divorce at the circuit court in the Illinois county where either you or your spouse resides.

Step 2

Find out if Illinois has personal jurisdiction over your spouse. Personal jurisdiction is important because it gives the court the ability to divide up marital property, establish alimony and determine child custody; without personal jurisdiction, all the court can do is terminate the marriage. Illinois will have personal jurisdiction over your spouse if he lives in Illinois, works in Illinois, is served with a summons while in Illinois or agrees to allow the state to have jurisdiction over him by appearing in an Illinois court for the divorce proceeding.

Step 3

Draft the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Petition is the formal request for termination of the marriage. The Petition should identify both parties, discuss the basic facts of the marriage and present the grounds for divorce. The Petition typically also outlines the requests you may have regarding a custody/parenting plan, child support, property division, attorney’s fees and/or court costs when applicable. Illinois recognizes 11 grounds for divorce. The fault grounds include natural impotency of your spouse, bigamy, adultery, desertion for at least one year, drug or alcohol abuse for two years, extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty, conviction of a felony, attempt on a spouse's life, or infecting a spouse with a sexually transmitted disease. The no-fault ground for divorce is irreconcilable differences, resulting in the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. However, Illinois law requires that you be separated for at least two years prior to filing for divorce on the no-fault ground. This waiting period can be reduced to six months if both parties sign a waiver.

Step 4

Prepare a Summons for your spouse. A Summons is a written notice that you send to your spouse informing him of the divorce. Generally, a Summons must be prepared using a specific form, which may be available at the clerk of the circuit court where you are filing.

Step 5

File the Petition and Summons with the clerk of court. You will need copies of your Summons and Petition. The clerk will provide you with a case number and trial date and keep a copy of the documents for the court’s records. The clerk may also take a copy of the Petition and Summons so the sheriff can serve your spouse on your behalf. If your spouse lives out of state, you may need to serve him using a professional process server.