How to Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer in Illinois

You do not have to use a lawyer when getting a divorce in Illinois. Having an experienced family lawyer can definitely help make the process smoother. But if you have the time and patience to learn courtroom procedures and navigate the legal complexities, DIY divorce may save you money in the end.

What Is the Process of a DIY Divorce?

If you or your spouse has lived in Illinois for at least 90 days, you will be able to file for divorce. To do it yourself without a lawyer, you’ll need to file a petition for dissolution of marriage at the county courthouse where you live.

The specific paperwork you’ll need will change depending on if it’s contested or uncontested, and whether or not you have minor children. In all cases, you’ll need to provide the court with papers outlining all your property and assets.

If you file alone, you must officially notify the other spouse about the divorce before it can proceed.

At this point, you would also decide if you need a temporary hearing to set up things like child support, spousal support, and restraining orders before the divorce is finalized.

Once the judge has reviewed all the paperwork, and if there are no errors, the judge will return a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. If you can’t agree on every aspect of the divorce, they may order mediation to help you and your spouse come to an agreement.

Do-It-Yourself Divorce Defined

A DIY divorce is when you file all the paperwork with the court and make decisions about all the aspects of a divorce without the help of an attorney. In most cases, this is done in low-conflict divorces where the couple agrees on property division, child custody and support, and all other parts of the divorce.

Couples who haven’t been married long, agree on the terms of the divorce, and don’t have children may qualify for a Joint Simplified Divorce. This is by far the fastest and easiest way to get a divorce but has a strict list of qualifications[1].

If you and your spouse don’t agree on the divorce, you can still file for a contested divorce on your own. However, the process and paperwork for a contested divorce are slightly different and may require additional steps.

How Much Does It Cost To File a Divorce Yourself?

When you get divorced, you will need to pay filing fees with the court. This specific amount varies from county to county. Also, if your spouse isn’t present, you’ll have to pay to serve them papers. If both parties can’t agree and the judge orders mediation, it may incur additional costs.

In general, expect to pay a minimum of $250 to file for a divorce.

The Risks of a DIY Divorce

Even when both you and your spouse agree on the divorce, it’s always best to consult a lawyer. This isn’t because of any hidden plots, or ill-will. Instead, having a lawyer can help avoid mistakes that can cost you a lot of time, money, and energy.

The more complex a divorce case gets, the more demanding the requirements for paperwork. Worse, if your divorce is contested, it can be harder to get a fair result without legal help.

Before filing a divorce on your own, make sure you’re prepared. Consider how your property will be divided, if either side needs financial support, child support, parenting schedules, and every other aspect. If there is even one point that you and your spouse can’t agree on, a judge may order costly mediation or, if that doesn’t work, might have to decide themselves.

The idea of a DIY divorce is to save time and money. But if you’re unsure of the process or make mistakes, it might end up costing you more in the end. When in doubt, consult an experienced family lawyer.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a divorce without a lawyer?

Yes, you can get a divorce without a lawyer. But, having a lawyer is great because they know when and what paperwork to file, how the process works, and what to do in unique situations.
There are many perks to having a lawyer but full representation is not cheap. That’s why we offer options like DIY divorce.

How to file for divorce without a lawyer?

You can file for divorce using the same paperwork as an attorney. The hard part is filling everything out correctly, knowing where to file it, and then knowing the next steps for service.

Can you get a divorce without going to court?

No, you cannot file for divorce without going to court. But, there are a couple of ways to minimize how much you go to court. Every divorce case has to be finalized in court, but if you figure out everything outside the courtroom, then you only need to go to court for that finalization. One best way to minimize the number of times you go to court is by doing divorce mediation.

How can I get a quick divorce?

One of the quickest ways to get a divorce is by getting an uncontested divorce. This is only for people that already agree with the other party on how to settle every issue. If there are no kids and minimal assets, there is also the option of a joint simplified divorce. Overall, the more you and the other party disagree, the longer the divorce can take.

Can you get a divorce without the other person signing the papers?

It is rare to get a divorce without the other party being a part of the process. One example of this would be if you cannot find the other party. If you can’t find them, steps such as service by publication must be taken first. If the other party simply won’t show up to court even though they were properly served, then the divorce can be settled without them.

Can I divorce my wife without her knowing?

No, you cannot divorce the other party without them knowing. Even when you can’t find the other party, you must show the court you went to great lengths to serve them the divorce papers.

Who should file for divorce first?

Who files first has little impact on the divorce process. One of the only things this impacts is that the person who files first has to pay a little bit more in filing fees.

Can you get divorced in a day?

Not in a day but a joint simplified divorce can take less than a week. Only certain couples are able to get a joint simplified divorce though.

How much does a divorce cost?

Usually, a divorce costs around $11,000, but it depends on what type of divorce you get. For example, mediation is often cheaper because the attorney fees are shared between the parties.

How does a DIY divorce work?

In DIY divorce, an attorney helps you with specific pieces of the divorce process. A lot of the work falls on the person going through the divorce, so this method is much cheaper. You meet with an attorney and then they lay out what the process will look like.

References: [1]Illinois Legal Aid