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What are Illinois Divorce Records?

Illinois divorce records are official documents that are issued by the state and contain details of divorces. Divorce records may be vital records or court records, depending on the specific document. Illinois divorce records are maintained by the state for record-keeping purposes. According to the United States Census Bureau in 2018, there were 6.6 divorces per 1,000 women over 15 years old, in Illinois.

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the state recognizes the “no-fault” grounds for divorce. This means that either spouse can file for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, without providing any fault from the other spouse. There are three ways a marriage may end in Illinois. They include:

  • Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage
  • Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)
  • Legal Separation

Formerly known as annulmentDeclaration of Invalidity of Marriage may be granted if the court finds that one or both parties did not have the capacity to consent to the marriage at the time of solemnization. This lack of capacity may be due to:

  • Mental inadequacy
  • Being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or similar substances
  • Being under duress,
  • Being below the age of 18 and without the consent of a parent or guardian.

For Dissolution of Marriage, the IMDMA requires that both spouses have lived apart for a continuous period of at least six months before the filing. Also, the court has to determine there is sufficient cause for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Furthermore, the court must determine that reconciliatory efforts have failed, or that any attempts at reconciliation would be detrimental to the family.

The court grants legal separation to a couple if both parties reach an agreement on “reasonable support and maintenance” even while they are living apart.

A divorce case is finalized after the judge signs the final judgment on the dissolution. The divorce case files and the signed judgment are filed at the Circuit Court in the county where the divorce was finalized. An uncontested divorce, where both parties agree on all issues regarding the divorce, may be finalized within eight weeks. While a contested divorce, where both parties disagree on issues, may last up to 30 months, depending on the case specifics.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

Are Divorce Records Public in Illinois?

According to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the general public may access details about a divorce. A Dissolution of Marriage Verification is the most accessible form of divorce records in the state. The Verification contains names of the parties, date of the event, dates of birth, and the city or county where the divorce took place. However, according to the Illinois Vital Records Act, certified divorce records are only accessible by authorized persons. Such authorized persons include the persons named on the records, close family members, and legal representatives.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are the types of Divorce Records available in Illinois?

Divorce Records available in Illinois include Divorce Decrees, Divorce Case Files, and Dissolution of Marriage Verification.

A Decree is the judge’s final judgment in a divorce case and contains specific information on the agreed or imposed terms of the settlement. These terms include child support, alimony payments, distribution of assets and liabilities, and other details peculiar to the case. A Divorce Decree is available from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the divorce was granted.

Divorce Case Files are court proceedings filed throughout the divorce process. They contain the parties’ testimonies, the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant’s response, summons, pleadings, and all other related documents.

A Dissolution of Marriage Verification contains the facts of a divorce, including the names of the divorced parties and their personal information. The Dissolution of Marriage Verification is the only divorce document available to the general public in Illinois.

The Divorce Decree and Divorce Case Files are available from the Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county where the divorce took place. The Dissolution of Marriage Verification is accessible from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

How Do I Get Divorce Records in Illinois?

The process required to obtain an Illinois Divorce Record varies depending on the record. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) can verify details of a dissolution of marriage finalized after 1962. The IDPH entertains requests by mail, fax, and in person. A requester must submit a completed Application for Verification of Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union Record Files form. Each Verification costs $5.

To obtain a Dissolution of Marriage Verification by mail, download and complete the application form. Alternatively, send a letter detailing the names of the divorced parties, the date and venue of the dissolution of marriage, and their dates of birth. Enclose the application or request letter with a check or money order payable to the Illinois Department of Public Health, and a copy of a valid government-issued I.D. Mail the request to:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Vital Records
925 East Ridgely Avenue
Springfield, IL 62702–2737

Requests sent by mail may take up to six weeks to process.

To obtain a Dissolution of Marriage Verification by fax, send the completed application form to (217)–523–2648. Include a written signature, a return address, a daytime phone number and area code, a copy of a valid government-issued photo I. D., and credit card number and expiration date. Fax requests cost a total of $37.45, including a $5 verification fee, a $12.95 credit card handling fee, and a $19.50 UPS fee. For a group order, additional verification requests cost $3 each. Fax requests take up to seven business days to process.

To obtain a Dissolution of Marriage Verification in person, visit the IDPH’s Division of Vital Records office on a weekday, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., excluding holidays. Visit the address listed below:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Vital Records
925 East Ridgely Avenue
Springfield, IL 62702–2737

To obtain other divorce records, including a divorce decree and divorce case files, contact the Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county where the divorce was finalized.

While divorce and marriage records may be searched through government sources and organizations, the availability of these documents cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these entities are not government-sponsored; therefore, record availability may vary further.

Also, note that marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information the records contain, and are often sealed. Hence, bear in mind that these factors determine the availability of any type of marriage or divorce record.

Who Can Obtain Divorce Records in Illinois?

In Illinois, copies of the Dissolution of Marriage Verification are available to the general public. However, certified copies of divorce records are only made available to the persons named on the records, close family members, legal representatives, and people who can prove legal interest in the records.

Are Illinois Divorce Records Available Online?

Illinois Divorce Records are not available online, and there is no central repository for these records in the state. Only the Verification of divorce (dissolution of marriage) is centrally processed from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court M.R 18368, all courts are mandated to file civil cases electronically, through the E-Filing for Illinois Courts. Hence, some large counties like McLean provide access to these civil cases, including divorce cases, through its Public Access Civil Search System. The information available on this system is limited and does not presume that a divorce is finalized. Note, details obtained on the public system are not official court records and should not be used for official purposes.

How Do I Seal My Divorce Records in Illinois?

Sealing divorce records may be done by court order from a judge. There are several reasons why a divorced party would want divorce records sealed, including privacy, safety concerns, and identity protection.

A party wishing to seal a divorce record must apply to the court, stating specific reasons for the request. While judges may not be eager to grant these requests, records may be sealed if the judge is convinced that details of the records may pose significant safety concerns.

However, there are cases where sealing certain parts of the divorce record may prove burdensome. In such cases, the entire record remains sealed. Sealed records are only accessible if the seal order is overturned or specific permission from the judge is granted.

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