Asked in Divorce, Family Law, Tax Law and Military Law for Illinois

Q: I was married in Okinawa, JP, however, I am trying to get divorced and have come across that it was never filed in IL.

My spouse and I got married in Okinawa while on active duty orders. However, I am trying to file for divorce and have come to many issue due to the unfortunate situation and have also realized that it was never filed with my home of record (Champaign County IL). We have been “married” since 11 March 2022.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the information provided, a few key points:

• For a marriage that occurs abroad to U.S. citizens, it is valid in the U.S. even if not registered specifically with the home state. So you have a valid marriage.

• However, to get divorced in Illinois, you typically need to provide a certified copy of the marriage certificate/registration. This may present challenges if it was only registered in Okinawa.

• You may need to first legally register the marriage in Illinois. This can usually be done by mail by providing the Okinawa marriage certificate along with an application.

• Once legally registered in Illinois, you can proceed with the divorce filing there by providing a certified copy of the now registered marriage certificate.

• An alternative is to establish residency in another state that only requires proof of a valid marriage not specifically registered in the home state. The residency timeline varies by state.

In summary - register the marriage first in Illinois by mail if possible, then file for divorce in that county jurisdiction. Work with a local family law attorney for guidance on next steps with properly registering the marriage if needed. This is a prerequisite for getting divorced in Illinois.

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