Divorce Rates in Illinois

Statistically, divorce rates continue to drop in the United States, hovering near the 45% mark in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But these statistics aren’t consistent throughout the country, and divorce rates can vary greatly from state to state. 

Divorce rates and statistics in Illinois

Despite being the sixth-largest state in the union by population, Illinois has the second-lowest rate of divorce of all states in the country, coming in at only slightly higher than Massachusetts (2021 data), according to the World Population Review.

The CDC says Illinois had a divorce rate of 1.3 per 1,000 people in 2021. That’s much lower than rates seen in the following nearby states:

  • Wisconsin: 2.1
  • Iowa: 2.3
  • Missouri: 2.9
  • Kentucky: 3.3

While it’s difficult to single out the specific reasons why fewer marriages end in Illinois, there are some possible reasons:

  •       Safety: Statistics suggest there is a correlation between unsafe environments and divorce. While there are safety issues in the larger metropolitan areas of Illinois, most of the state is suburban and rural.
  •       Income: There is also an established correlation between lower incomes and divorce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Illinois is $72,563, slightly above the national median.
  •       Education: In Illinois, 89.9% of the population has graduated from high school and has some form of post-secondary education. Further, 36.2% of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  •       Marrying later: Couples are generally waiting longer to get married. The average age of first marriage in Illinois is 27.1 years, an age group slightly older than most other states.
  •       Cohabitation: As a general trend, especially for younger couples, cohabitation has increased as divorce trends downward.
  •       Conservatism: Statistics suggest that states with larger populations of religious conservatives also have higher divorce rates.

A lower number of marriages can also lead to a smaller divorce rate, and Illinois has few marriages every year. According to the CDC, 4.7 out of 1,000 people in Illinois were married in 2021. In Kentucky (which has a much higher divorce rate than Illinois), 6.3 in 1,000 people were married in 2021. As fewer people in the state get married, fewer get divorced later on.

Illinois isn’t the only state seeing few marriages. The United States Census Bureau says the nationwide marriage rate declined from 16.3 per 1,000 in 2011 to 14.9 per 1,000 a decade later. Some people decide that living together, rather than getting married, is the better choice for them. Others feel like making a life-long commitment just isn’t right for them at all.

Counties with highest divorce rates in Illinois

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (2017 data), the highest divorce rates in Illinois are in the following five counties:

  •       Cook County
  •       DuPage County
  •       Lake County
  •       Will County
  •       Kane County

It should be no surprise that Cook County topped the rankings of the highest divorce rates in Illinois, as it is home to Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city in the United States.

Counties with lowest divorce rates in Illinois

According to the same data source, the following counties report the lowest number of divorces in Illinois:

  •       Alexander County
  •       Scott County
  •       Pope County
  •       Mercer County
  •       Stark County

For the most part, these figures represent counties with the highest and lowest reported populations, both spectrums of urban/suburban and rural demographics, and the highest and lowest range of socioeconomic advantages in Illinois.

What factors lead to divorce?

In Illinois and around the country, married couples seek divorce for many reasons. This study found that the following factors may increase a couple’s risk of divorce:

  •       A lack of communication
  •       Infidelity
  •       Conflict and arguing
  •       Marrying too young
  •       Financial issues
  •       Substance abuse
  •       Domestic violence
  •       Health issues
  •       Lack of family support
  •       Religious differences
  •       Lack of premarital education

Do Illinois no-fault divorce rules matter?

The state of Illinois is considered a no-fault divorce state. The only grounds required to seek a divorce are irreconcilable differences, meaning that divorcing spouses do not need to prove fault to be granted a divorce in Illinois.

Organizations like the Institute for Family Studies suggest that dropping the requirement to prove fault leads directly to a higher divorce rate. They say partners in marriages in no-fault states think of themselves as individuals first and partners second.

However, data from the CDC suggest that no-fault rules don’t always lead to higher divorce rates. Alabama and Arkansas have the highest divorce rates in the country at 3.6 per 1,000. One (Alabama) is a no-fault state. The other (Arkansas) is not.

If you are considering a divorce in Illinois, it’s important to understand state laws and your legal options. At Hello Divorce, we offer affordable flat-rate online divorce plans and professional services to help you through this time. Get more information by scheduling a free 15-minute phone call with one of our account coordinators.

Read: Divorce and Marital Status Discrimination: Your Workplace Rights


Divorce Rates by State: 2019-2021. (February 2023). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Marriage Rates by State: 201-2021. (February 2023). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
National Marriage and Divorce Rates Declined from 2011 to 2021. (July 2023). United States Census Bureau.
Challenging the No-Fault Divorce Regime. (July 2023). Institute for Family Studies.
What Is No-Fault Divorce, and Why Do Some Conservatives Want to Get Rid of It? (November 2023). CNN.
Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.