How to File for Divorce in Illinois
To file for divorce in Illinois:
- Get the necessary paperwork (download it for free on our website).
- Fill out the paperwork.
- File it with the local clerk of courts.
- Serve the other party and get a court date.
Filing for divorce should not be difficult. It’s hard enough to make the decision to file in the first place, weighing your options, wondering how it will affect your family, your finances, your housing.
Once you’ve made the decision to advocate for a positive change in your life, we can help with the rest.
How to File for Divorce in Illinois
Here are the steps to file for a divorce in Illinois. For information on residency requirements and grounds for divorce, see the section “Before Filing for a Divorce” below. The necessary paperwork can be downloaded for free on our divorce forms page.
1). Get the Proper Divorce Forms
Some counties need different forms than others, so it is best to check with your county’s office or website. For most counties, these are the necessary documents:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union
- Financial Affidavit
- Proof of Service/Delivery
- Response to Petition
- Certification Agreement
- Judgment of Dissolution
If minor children are a part of the divorce, there are a couple more forms:
- Parenting Plan
- Uniform Order of Support
2). Gather Information
You probably won’t have all of the information needed to file for a divorce. The property division stage can become especially complicated for divorces with a lot of assets or debts.
Divorces with kids also have to fill out the parenting plan, and it's hard to determine exactly what schedule is best for the child. The courts prefer for parents to decide child custody on their own. Once the forms have been filled out, they can be filed.
3). File the Forms
If you have an attorney filing your forms, make sure it is one who regularly practices in your county. This way, you know they are filing all the correct forms. If you file the forms incorrectly or with incorrect information, the court will not move forwards. In this case, you can get help from an attorney to double-check your documents.
4). Serve Your Spouse
After filing for divorce, the petitioner delivers a copy of the divorce papers to the other party. The divorce papers are usually delivered by the petitioner, a sheriff, or mail. If a spouse cannot be located or is in another country, service is a bit more difficult. There are still a couple of options, such as a third party serving them or service by publication.
The party that is served, called the respondent, has 30 days to respond from the day they are served. After the service, a court date is set.
Are you ready to move forward? Call (312) 757-8082 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.
Before Filing for a Divorce
To file for a divorce in Illinois, the petitioner (the person filing) must have grounds for divorce and meet the residency requirements.
Illinois Residency Requirements
If someone lives in Illinois for 90 days, they are eligible to file for divorce in the state. This includes if a party is stationed in the state as a member of the armed forces.
How to Prove Grounds for Divorce
Grounds are the reasons or justifications for divorce. Illinois law says the only grounds for divorce is proof that the marriage is broken and unable to be fixed. Most often, parties prove this with physical separation or by both agreeing they want a divorce.
If both parties are not willing to get a divorce, the easiest way to prove a marriage is broken is by living apart from each other for at least six months. Living apart does not have to mean living in two different places. Living apart could mean one party living out of a different part of the house or sleeping in a different room. In this example, the day spouses no longer sleep in the same room is the separation date.
Problems can come up when parties disagree on the separation date. The separation date is the day a party defines as the time they separated from their spouse. If one party says the separation date is later than the other, it can delay the divorce.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get a Divorce in Illinois?
The fastest way to get a divorce in Illinois is by filing for a joint simplified dissolution. Contested divorces are not eligible to file this way, but many uncontested divorces are.
There are many requirements that have to be met before filing for the simplified petition. First, the divorce must be uncontested, and parties must be willing to file together. Even some of these people will not be eligible though. Parties must also meet the following requirements:
- They cannot have children under 18.
- They cannot own real estate.
- Their assets minus debts must be less than $50k.
- They cannot have retirement benefits worth more than $10k.
- Their combined income must be less than $60k per year.
This type of divorce can be filed, heard, and finalized all in one day if that fits in the courts schedule. These divorces started in Cook County, and not all other counties do them. For other counties, check with your local court clerk.
Can You E-file for Divorce in Illinois?
When filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Civil Union, Illinois petitioners can e-file online. First, they need to get all the necessary documents (listed above). Then, they need to fill them out online and file them. They can be filed through an electronic filing service provider.
These services are only meant to help you file, not to give you legal advice. For legal help with filing or any step in the process, call or reach out to Sterling Hughes.
How Is a Divorce Different if You Have Kids?
Understandably, having kids makes a divorce more complicated. In the beginning, there is more paperwork to do, and finding your new normal is more difficult.
Throughout the case, many parents have a hard time agreeing on what to do with their children. Each parent wants to make all the decisions, especially if the other party lost their trust. Either way, children in a divorce adds a whole other layer to it because the divorce is also a child custody case.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to file for a divorce in Illinois?
The price of filing for divorce depends on the county you are in. Also, there are two different fees, one for the person filing and one for the other party. For example, in Cook County, the filing fee is $388, and the appearance fee–the fee paid for by the other party–is $251. Overall, the cost of a divorce is most impacted by your attorney fees and the property division stage.
How do I file for divorce on my own in Illinois?
In Illinois, you are able to file for a divorce without a lawyer. It isn’t easy to go through a divorce without legal help, but it is possible. For filing, get the necessary forms from our website, then pay the filing fee, and file the forms with your county clerk.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Illinois?
A divorce can take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years. The length of divorce in Illinois depends on if a waiting period is needed, if there are kids, and how often parties disagree.
How long do you have to be separated before you can divorce in Illinois?
Six months of living separated proves there are grounds for divorce. This separation does not have to be physical, but parties must prove that their marriage is unable to be fixed. Separation is only required if both parties aren't willing to waive the need.
How can I get a quick divorce in Illinois?
An uncontested divorce in Illinois is the quickest way to get a divorce. To get an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse have to agree on everything. That’s why it goes much faster than a contested divorce.