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Dissolution of same-sex marriages in Illinois

Illinois will recognize same sex marriages in June 2014. Same-sex couples will also be able to divorce in Illinois.

In November 2013, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act into law, making Illinois the 14th state in the U.S. to allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The law takes effect state-wide June 1, 2014, although some counties have been performing same-sex marriages since February 2014. Illinois has recognized same-sex civil unions since 2011.

The state will also recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where same-sex marriage is legal. The flip side to having a marriage recognized as valid is the ability to end the union legally through divorce. Same-sex couples who were married elsewhere and move to Illinois will have the ability to divorce in the state if they meet certain requirements.

Grounds for dissolution in Illinois

People can file for divorce in Illinois based on grounds of fault or no-fault, also called "irreconcilable differences." Couples must have been separated for at least two years in order to petition for no-fault divorce, unless each spouse agrees to the dissolution in writing. If both spouses agree, they only need to have lived separately for six months prior to divorce.

If one party has not agreed to the divorce and the other cannot wait two years, a spouse may choose to petition for divorce on the grounds of fault such as adultery, bigamy, felony conviction, abandonment, desertion, cruelty or impotence.

Jurisdictional requirements for dissolution

People must also meet certain residency requirements to ensure that an Illinois court has the jurisdiction to grant a divorce. At least one of the spouses must have been an Illinois resident for at least three months prior to filing the divorce petition. An exception to this requirement is for same-sex couples who get married or enter into civil unions in Illinois and then later move to a state that does not recognize the marriages or civil unions. Rather than requiring one of the spouses to move back to Illinois for three months, the court will retain jurisdiction over the marriage or civil union across state lines.

Consult an attorney

Same-sex and heterosexual couples face the same difficult issues when going through divorce. It is vital to have the assistance of an experienced family law attorney when facing the challenges accompanying divorce to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible. If you are considering divorce, speak with a seasoned Illinois divorce attorney who can advise you how to proceed based on the specifics of your situation.

Keywords: divorce; same-sex divorce; dissolution

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