Illinois Divorce – Residency Requirements

In order to start the dissolution process you must file a petition in the circuit court where you or your spouse lives. In your petition or at the hearing, you will have to meet the residency requirement for the ground you specified. Dissolution laws apply only to the residents of a state, and each state has its own residency requirements. To file for a dissolution in Illinois, the residency requirement is ninety (90) days in the state, and a current resident of the county of filing.  To file in Cook County, Illinois, at least one party must have lived in Illinois for at least ninety (90) days, and at least one party must be a current resident of Cook County. The law absolutely requires that you or your spouse has been a resident for the stated period of time immediately prior to and at the time that you file for a dissolution. For example, you cannot have lived in Illinois for ninety (90) days before moving to Nebraska for thirty (30) days and then come back to Illinois to file for a dissolution right away.

If there are minor children of the parties, in order to file in Illinois, at least one of the following residency requirements must be met as well:

– The children will have lived in Illinois for at least six months (or since birth) immediately prior to the filing of the petition.

– The children live with a parent outside of Illinois BUT did reside inside Illinois for at least six months (or since birth) within the six months prior to filing for dissolution.


You do not have to remain at the same address to fulfill your residency requirement.  You can move anywhere within the state from which you are filing. You should be prepared to prove to the Court where you lived during the separation.


Your residency is substantiated by your sworn petition. The testimony is all that most courts require to verify residency. But cases have been dismissed and even overturned because of improper proof of residency.


A court may take on a dissolution proceeding even if your spouse is not a resident of Illinois. If you or your spouse move to another state after the dissolution has been filed, you may still have your case heard in Illinois.


Register to vote. Get a driver’s license. Get a job. Open charge accounts. Register your car. Take out a library card. The list is endless. But whatever you do, do not maintain a residence in another state that could imply that you do not intend to remain in the state from which you file.


Illinois has counties that govern which court your dissolution will take place in. This is called venue. The dissolution must be filed in the county where either the plaintiff or defendant resides in Illinois. To file in Cook County, at least one of the parties must be a current resident of the county.