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How to File for Divorce in Illinois When You Were Married in Another CountryMore than a million people from around the world immigrate to the U.S. and become permanent residents each year. Many people are attracted to the opportunity for a better life, while others may be following a job offer or looking for a change. It is common for couples and families to make the move together with no intention of leaving the U.S. What happens when a couple who was married in another country decides to divorce while living in the U.S.? The divorce laws of the state in which they live will determine how the divorce will proceed.

Where Do You Divorce?

You file for divorce with the court system of your permanent residence and not the court system of the country where you were married. This applies when you immigrated to the U.S. from another country and when you emigrated from the U.S. to another country. For people who have moved to Illinois from another country, you should understand these rules about divorce:

  • You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to file for divorce in Illinois.
  • You do need to be a permanent resident of Illinois and have maintained a residence in the state for at least 90 days.
  • Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, which means you do not have to present a reason for divorce other than that you have irreconcilable differences.
  • Though you need to know the basic information about your marriage, you typically do not need to provide a copy of your marriage license from the country where you were married.
  • You can still divorce your spouse if they do not live in the U.S., but you must send them a notice of your petition to divorce.
  • If your spouse refuses to attend the divorce hearing, the court may issue a default judgment in your favor.
  • Whether the country where you were married recognizes your divorce judgment will depend on the laws of that country.

Serving notice to a spouse living in another country can be complicated, especially if that country does not have a treaty with the U.S. that recognizes each others’ court orders. You can serve notice to your spouse by mailing it to their address, using a foreign agent to deliver it, or posting a notice in a publication of record for where they live.

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