Dissolution Related Legal Issues

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs the Domestic Relations Division’s disposition of dissolution related legal issues. Pursuant to the IMDMA, the court may dissolve a marriage, dispose of debts and assets between the parties, award maintenance (f.k.a. alimony), and much more. For more information regarding the scope of the court’s authority under the IMDMA and the rules governing the court’s disposition of your case, please see 750 ILCS 5/ which can be found here.  

The information provided below is not intended to be construed as legal advice and is only intended to answer general questions regarding the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County and relevant legal principles.


Do I need to provide a reason for why I want a dissolution of marriage?

Yes, and irreconcilable differences is the only accepted ground or reason for dissolution in Illinois. In your Petition for Dissolution, you must establish that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and that efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family. 

If the parties have lived separate and apart (i.e. have not acted as spouses) for a continuous period of not less than 6 months immediately preceding the entry of the judgment dissolving the marriage, there is an irrebuttable presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met. Said differently, if you and your spouse have been separated for six months or more, then your spouse cannot contest the dissolution itself (even though they can still raise arguments regarding ancillary matters such as the disposition of your collective property). However, if the parties are in agreement about obtaining a dissolution, but have not been separated for six months, they do not have to wait to seek dissolution.  

 For more information please see 750 ILCS 5/401 and 750 ILCS 5/403

What is a Joint Simplified Dissolution and what is the procedure for obtaining one?

A “joint simplified dissolution” of marriage was designed to simplify and speed up the dissolution process for parties who meet the following requirements:

• The duration of the marriage does not exceed eight (8) years;
• The marriage is broken and cannot be repaired (in legal terms: Irreconcilable Differences have led to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage);
• The parties do not have any children, biological or adopted, together, and the wife or partner is not currently pregnant by the husband or other partner;
• Neither party is dependent on the other for support or each party is willing to waive the right to support, and the parties understand that consultation with attorneys may help them determine eligibility for spousal support;
• Each party waives the right to spousal support;
• Neither party has any interest in real estate, or retirement benefits unless the retirement benefits are exclusively held in individual retirement accounts and the combined value of the accounts is less than $10,000;
• The total fair market value of all marital property, after deducting all debts owed, is less than $50,000.00;
• The total annual income of both parties is less than $60,000.00 and neither party has a gross annual income from all sources in excess of $30,000.00;
• Both parties have disclosed to each other all assets and tax returns for all years of the marriage;
• The parties have executed a written agreement dividing all assets in excess of $100.00 in value and allocating responsibility for debts and liabilities between themselves ; and
• Either party has met the residency requirement of being a resident of the State of Illinois, or being stationed in Illinois while a member of the armed services and said residence or military presence has been maintained for 90 days preceding the initiation of the action of entry of Judgment of Dissolution.
• The parties have executed a written agreement allocating ownership of and responsibility for any companion animals owned by the parties (except service animals).

If you qualify for a joint simplified dissolution, contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the necessary forms to file a joint simplified dissolution at (312) 603-6300 or at www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org

For more information on Joint Simplified Dissolutions, see 750 ILCS 5/451 et. seq

What happens to my divorce case if my spouse and I get back together before a judgment is entered ?

If you and your spouse reconcile, you have the option of requesting a dismissal of your dissolution of marriage or requesting that the case be put on the Reconciliation Calendar.  Both options require filing a motion making the specific request to dismiss your case or to have your case placed on the Reconciliation Calendar, providing notice of the motion to the other side, and presenting the motion to the court.

Dismissal of Case
If the court grants your request to dismiss your case, your case will no longer be pending in court.  This means all court orders will be terminated and no longer be enforceable.  If you or your spouse decide later to proceed with your divorce, you or your spouse will have to file a new case with the Clerk of Circuit Court’s Office and pay all the initial filing fees again.

Reconciliation Calendar
If the court grants a request for your case to be placed on the Reconciliation Calendar, the case will remain pending.  However, all prior orders of court, including access to the court for enforcement and discovery, shall be considered suspended, unless otherwise expressly agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court.  Cases can remain on the Reconciliation Calendar for a period not to exceed one (1) year.

All cases on the Reconciliation Calendar will be given a status court date within one year.  If on the status date your case has been on the Reconciliation Calendar for one (1) year, the case will either be dismissed or be placed back on the court’s regular calendar to proceed with the divorce.  If on the status date your case has been on the Reconciliation Calendar for less than one (1) year, the case may be allowed to remain on the Reconciliation Calendar for the remainder of the one (1) year.  If the Petitioner or their counsel does not appear in court on a Reconciliation Calendar status date, the case will be dismissed. 

Either you or your spouse may ask the court to remove the case from the Reconciliation Calendar and place it back on the court’s regular calendar to proceed with the divorce.  A benefit of the Reconciliation Calendar is that should you or your spouse decide to proceed with your divorce, you will not have to re-file your case and pay the requisite filing fees again.

See Circuit Court of Cook County Rule 13.2(g) for more information regarding the Reconciliation Calendar. 

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