How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Illinois?

There are many things to consider with the price of a divorce. With that being said, the price of an IL divorce can vary wildly depending on how contested or complicated it is. Typically the cost of divorce ranges from $2,500 to $25,000.

According to Business Insider,[1] the average cost of a divorce in the US is about $15,000.

Putting an exact price tag on divorce is hard because every couple is so different. Cases that involve a lot of property to divide, minor children, or spousal support issues tend to be more expensive.

Further, if you and your spouse can’t agree on the issues and the case goes to trial, the cost will likely double.

The Emotional and Financial Toll of a Divorce

Just like no two families are alike, no two divorces are either. Some divorces aren’t very involved and feel more like working out a business contract. Others drag out for years and cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

To top things off, family law cases are liable to change. An initially amicable spouse might change their tune without warning. Conversely, sometimes divorces that start contentious can become amicable seemingly overnight.

There are some financial costs that won’t change in almost all Illinois divorces. Filing fees and other administrative fees can be planned for in advance. There are also typical costs associated with mediation or serving papers. Sometimes, it’s helpful to prepare in advance so you’re not surprised.

All of these things can affect how long and how much the divorce ends up being. But divorce isn’t just a numbers game, it’s a very emotionally draining process. In many cases, divorce brings up a lot of difficult feelings that are sometimes harder to deal with than the legal aspects.

Even though no divorce is a good experience, try your best to avoid a contested case. Judges will order mediation for contested cases, and if that doesn’t work, it will go to trial. Not only will this cost more money, but it will drag it out longer, and ultimately take away you (and your spouse’s) decision-making power over the big issues.

When Possible, Avoid a Contested Divorce

It’s not always easy to separate the emotional and practical sides of a divorce. When a marriage has broken down, it can be hard to see property division, child custody, spousal support, and other big issues with a clear set of eyes.

If your divorce is contested, it can be helpful to understand the process.

The first step of a contested divorce is a hearing to establish temporary orders. This is where a judge will temporarily order child custody, child support, property preservation, restraining orders, or other important issues. It goes without saying that having an attorney present is essential to ensure your family’s wellbeing is being protected.

After that, both attorneys may go through the process of discovery. This is when both sides exchange financial and other information they need to resolve the case. Sometimes, this is completely mutual and conflict-free. Other times, especially when spouses don’t trust each other, the process can get drawn out.

Worse, if a spouse is suspected of concealing property or assets, bringing in an expert might be required. Usually, if there are disputes, a judge will order mediation. This is where a neutral third party tries to facilitate negotiations so both parties can agree on the divorce settlement without going to trial.

Most cases are settled in mediation, but when couples won’t budge, the case then goes to trial.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Illinois?

When you file the necessary papers for divorce (called Dissolution of Marriage in Illinois), you’ll have to pay a filing fee. These fees vary county to county but expect to pay at least $250.

In addition to the filing fees, you may need to pay to serve papers to your spouse. This can be done either through private Process Servers or through the county Sheriff’s office. If you don’t need to inform your spouse of the divorce, you can save money on this if your spouse signs an Entry of Appearance form in advance.

If you can’t afford the filing fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees.[2]

How much does it cost to get an amicable divorce?

An amicable divorce, also known as an uncontested divorce, is overall much cheaper. So if you and your spouse can set aside your differences, this is by far the better option.

An Illinois divorce can be done with or without a lawyer. However, even in uncontested cases, it’s advisable to consult an attorney to ensure you file forms and follow court procedures correctly. Additionally, a family lawyer will be in the best position to make sure all your bases are covered.

Depending on how complex your divorce is, and whether you hire an attorney, the exact price can vary. If you do not hire an attorney it could be as low as $300 to $500 (assuming there are no mistakes, and you need no outside help). With an attorney, it could be between $1000-10,000.

If your marriage lasted a relatively short amount of time, involved no minor children, and you make under $60k a year (combined), you may qualify for a Joint Simplified Divorce. This is by far the easiest, cheapest, and fastest divorce process in Illinois. However, there are very strict guidelines[3] for who is applicable.

How much is divorce if it’s highly contested?

When a divorce case is contested, the prices can go up exponentially. Especially when lawyers are charging by the hour. The average divorce can cost around $15,000 but a contested divorce tends to be higher than average.

Also, as disputes arise in the case, it might be necessary for the court to hire third-party experts. These will incur additional fees, and drag the case out much longer. If at all possible, try to put aside your differences and settle disputes with your spouse outside of a courtroom.

How much does the average divorce cost in Illinois?

Filing fees vary from county to county, but paperwork alone may cost between $300-$500. This would include the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, serving papers, and other administrative fees. Also, if you have children you will have to take parenting classes, which may add fees.

The more contested a case is, the more expensive it becomes. Mandated mediation, third party experts, and any legal fees add up as a case drags on.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Illinois?

There is no mandated waiting period for an uncontested divorce in Illinois. Contested divorces have a waiting period of six months. Uncontested cases are the quickest and can happen within weeks or months. Contested cases may take up to a year or more.


References: [1]Business Insider, [2]Filing Court Papers, [3]Joint Simplified Divorce


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