Illinois Family Law: An Overview

Family life, including marriage, divorce, children's welfare and other related topics, is regulated by Illinois law. A highly personal topic often influenced by shifting, strong emotions, there are many legal considerations at play in family law. Illinois's family law statutes help to ensure that each family member's individual rights are secure while fairly serving their best interests.

Whether you have a family law case in Aurora, Springfield or Chicago, LawInfo is your source for information and legal help. LawInfo's Illinois Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family. Illinois family law attorneys can assist you with any of the following topics (and many more).

Illinois Marriage License

A marriage license is an important document a couple will need to acquire before their wedding. A license officiates a marital union under state law, which helps a married couple qualify for certain benefits. To qualify for a marriage license in Illinois, a couple must meet these requirements:

  • Both parties are age 18 years or older. If one or both parties are ages 16 to 17, they must attain parental, guardian or judicial approval.
  • Both parties must provide proof of identity and birth to the County Clerk.
  • If one or both parties were previously married, they must provide proof of divorce.
  • Neither party may be "closely related," including parent and child, siblings, or uncle/aunt and nephew/niece, regardless of the relationship's legitimacy or blood relation.

Once you receive your marriage license, you must wait 24 hours before getting married. After the waiting period is over, you have 60 days to get married before the license expires. It's important that you note these time limits so you can incorporate them into your wedding plans.

Illinois Divorce Requirements

Unlike many other states, Illinois is a "no-fault" divorce state. This means that there are no specific legal grounds that a marriage must meet to qualify for a legal dissolution. The only requirements a couple must meet are that one or both parties have lived in Illinois for 90 days or longer prior to filing for divorce and that the divorce is happening as a result of "irreconcilable differences."

Alternatively, if the couple has been living separately and apart for six months or longer prior to filing for divorce, the court automatically presumes that there were irreconcilable differences. This helps to fulfill one of the only requirements for divorce.

Child Custody and Visitation in Illinois

Parents who file for divorce face important child rearing decisions. They must decide which parent will have primary custody and what percentage of time each one will spend with the children. In Illinois family courts, these are referred to as "decision-making" and "parenting time."

Parental decisions are governed by a court order or a formal agreement between parents. The court may decide to allocate most or all of the decision-making responsibilities to only one parent. These are the issues that may be divided between the parents for decision-making responsibilities:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Religious upbringing
  • Extracurricular activities

A court will determine parenting time (visitation) based on the best interests of the child.

When Do I Need an Illinois Family Law Attorney?

Whether you need a family law attorney depends on a number of factors specific to your case. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Few couples need a lawyer to get married but attorneys may be required if there’s a prenuptial agreement involved.

Individuals often benefit from hiring an attorney when dealing with divorce, child support, and especially child custody matters. Because emotions can run high during some divorces, hiring an attorney to negotiate and resolve difficult issues can be invaluable.

Many lawyers offer free initial consultations, so it may be worth your time to speak with an experienced Illinois family law attorney if you have additional questions.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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