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Illinois Alternatives to Divorce

Divorce is not the only way to end a marriage. Some couples may also consider legal separation or annulment instead of dissolving the marriage through divorce. Illinois divorce law also allows couples to try alternatives to divorce court to try and work out agreements, such as through divorce mediation or arbitration, depending on the circumstances.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is considered the legal middle ground between marriage and divorce. The process allows the couples to set workable terms that may be used later on the divorce process, but the couple still has the option of reconciling without having to take further legal action.

A petition for legal separation must be filed in the county where the respondent lives or where the couples last lived together. If the Illinois divorce courts issue a judgment for legal separation, it doesn't mean the couple is legally divorced. However, the couple is able to divorce later if they wish.


Annulment is as if the marriage never existed because it wasn't legal under Illinois law. The Illinois divorce court will rule a marriage invalid and annulled if:

  • One spouse was unable to consent because of drugs or alcohol
  • A spouse was forced into the marriage through fraud or duress
  • One spouse was impotent and the other spouse didn't know before the marriage
  • A spouse was 16 or 17 and lacked consent of a parent
  • The marriage is otherwise prohibited

Illinois divorce law has specified time restraints for a marriage to be annulled. A local Illinois divorce lawyer can further explain these time limits and how your case may be affected.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution allows a couple to use a neutral third party help them negotiate a divorce settlement to save everyone time and money in the divorce process. If the Illinois divorce court determines there is a prospect of reconciliation, the court may order a conciliation conference. The couples will agree to meet with a conciliator to try to resolve differences. Hopefully, the couple can compromise and settle on main objectives.

Any facts discussed or determined during the conciliation conference will not be considered in the adjudication of a pending or subsequent legal action taken by the Illinois divorce court. Also, any report from the conciliation conference will not be recorded as part of the case, unless the couple have agreed to contrary in writing.

Find out if one of the Illinois divorce options would be something you should consider by connecting with a local Illinois divorce lawyer. Call 877-349-1310 or fill out a divorce case review form to learn more about alternatives to divorce. Work with an Illinois divorce attorney about ways to save time and money during your divorce.

Case Evaluation

The above synopsis of Illinois divorce laws is by no means all-inclusive and has been adapted from applicable state laws. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local Illinois divorce lawyer in your area.

Illinois divorce laws were last updated May 2009.

Note: Keep in mind that all divorce laws are complex. If you need legal divorce advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local divorce attorney.