Cost of Divorce in Illinois
The cost of divorces in Illinois generally range from around $11,000 to $14,000. Most of that cost comes from attorney fees, but it also includes things like filing fees and professional appraisals. Complex cases or ones involving children, property, assets, and alimony may cost more while simpler cases may cost less.
The cost of divorce comes in two main forms: the financial cost and the emotional cost. Most people focus on the financial costs and the largest part of that cost is attorney fees.
This article discusses the cost of a divorce, then gives an overview of the divorce types, and closes with the cost of each type.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Illinois?
The cost of a divorce will depend on the specifics of the situation. In general terms, the more you agree with the other party, the cheaper the case will be.
Even within each of these divorce types, there is quite a bit of variation. This is because there are so many factors that impact a case. For example, a divorce where there are two kids and a lot of assets is going to be more complicated than one with neither of those things.
Depending on how you think about it, the cheapest way to get a divorce is to not hire an attorney and personally file for divorce at the courthouse. Then, the only cost you see right away is the filing fees which usually cost around $300-$400.
But, by not having an attorney, you lose the opportunity for a better future situation that they help create. An attorney sets you up for a better financial future through property division and support negotiations. They impact your family’s future by advising on custody and placement agreements. And they make the process less stressful because they know what to do at every step of the way.
The Emotional Cost
Divorcing or separating from your spouse is a major emotional life event. Marriage deeply intertwines two lives making the separation difficult on many levels from finances to family and friends. It’s hard enough just to continue and figure out what life looks like beyond the relationship.
An attorney takes on a lot of the burden by dealing with the other party for you and taking care of the pieces they can. Attorneys who work solely in family law, like those at Sterling Hughes, have been through these cases over and over and know what to do in each case.
There are a lot of emotions to work through in every separation. Having an attorney who cares about you and your family helps you come out on the other side to find a better situation. One way to assess an attorney’s character is to look at the way they bill their clients.
Hourly vs Fixed Fee
Hourly billing is the standard way attorneys bill clients. Attorneys in Illinois usually charge $260 to $330 per hour. With this model, attorneys charge clients down to the tenth of an hour, rounding up if something goes even a minute over. They bill for everything from emailing to travel time to learning relevant laws. This method puts the attorney at odds with their clients because it doesn’t benefit the attorney to be prepared and work efficiently.
Sterling Hughes works on a fixed fee basis where we tell you exactly how much your case will cost from the beginning. All the attorney needs is a consultation to get an understanding of your situation.
The attorney even outlines exactly where extra costs could come from and how much those will cost. We use the fixed fee system because it demonstrates our alignment to our client's goals.
Quick Overview of Separation Processes
There are three ways a divorce can happen: uncontested, mediated, or contested. This is the main factor that impacts the cost of a divorce because it shows how complicated the divorce will be.
An uncontested divorce is the cheapest method. In an uncontested divorce, parties agree on the vast majority of things and file together. Many people with simpler cases, such as those who don’t have kids or much property, choose uncontested.
The middle of the road for pricing is mediation. This is where parties are confident they can work together to reach an agreement on all issues in the case. The attorney acts as the third-party mediator that helps them through the process. The cost for mediation is usually split between the parties.
The final form of a divorce is a contested divorce. This is where one or more issues need to be decided in court. Many cases end up taking this route because many separating couples have a hard time working together.
Overview of Separation Types
These three types define how the process will look. The next way a separation is categorized is by the outcome of the process. There is divorce, annulment, or legal separation.
In a divorce, parties want to end being completely separate from each other. For an annulment, the parties finish as if they were never legally married. For a legal separation, parties are still married but separate in various ways.
Cost per Type of Separation
The price for each type of separation has a starting point because there is a minimum amount of work required for each case. Then, it can increase depending on the specifics of the case. See example types below. (Reminder: The mediation cost can be split between the parties.)
For an uncontested divorce, you can often use our DIY divorce method. For a middle of the road divorce, you can go through mediation. And for more difficult cases, you will want a legal advocate.
Whether it is for a divorce, an annulment, or a legal separation, there are three main options of legal help:
- DIY Divorce
- Legal Advocate
Click here to explore our pricing options.
For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!
Who Pays for Divorce?
Generally, each party pays for their own divorce fees and costs. But, the money used to pay an attorney can often come from the marital estate. This option is especially important in times of financial abuse.
In some cases, one party may be required to pay the other party’s attorney fees. This does not happen often.
What Can Affect the Cost of a Divorce?
One of the biggest factors that impact the cost of a divorce is the level at which parties can work together to reach an agreement. Other major factors include the presence of children and the amount of marital assets.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Illinois?
In Cook County, it costs $388 to file for a divorce, annulment, or legal separation. It then costs $251 for the other party to file their response. Other counties will have similar rates to file for divorce. These do not include any attorney fees.
What is the cheapest way to get a divorce in Illinois?
The cheapest way to get a divorce is to not get an attorney. This is not a good option for many cases such as when you don’t trust the other party or if they have an attorney. The cheapest way to get a divorce with help from an attorney is using the uncontested divorce method.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Illinois?
It can take anywhere from two months to a year to get a divorce in Illinois. Usually, it takes closer to a year because there are waiting periods, the courts are busy, and it takes a while to settle each and every issue.
Does it matter who files for divorce first in Illinois?
Who files first does not have a significant impact on the divorce. One small thing is that the person filing first will have to pay a bit more in filing fees. And, the person who filed is called the petitioner and the other is called the respondent.