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How to File for Divorce in Cook County, Illinois

To file for a divorce in Cook County, Illinois, you need the correct paperwork. To file it in person, you go to the clerk of courts office in the Chicago Daley Center in or another suburban municipal district courthouse. To get a divorce, parties will have to come to an agreement on topics such as property division, child custody, and child support.

Under Illinois law, divorce is called a legal dissolution of a marriage. Couples get divorced for many different reasons, and it's not an easy decision to make. But sometimes it’s the best option. Divorces in Cook County are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.[1]

The purpose of this article is to highlight the steps you need to take to file for divorce in Cook County, Illinois.

Steps to File for a Divorce

No two divorces are the same because no two relationships are the same. There are many factors or topics that a divorcing couple needs to agree on. This might include the following:

  • Division of assets
  • Delegation of parental duties and responsibilities
  • Child support
  • Spousal support

If spouses agree on the terms of their divorce, then divorce is uncontested. If spouses do not agree on all the terms of the divorce, then the divorce is contested. A contested divorce can last anywhere from six months to a year or more.

The steps listed here in this article illustrate how to file for divorce in Cook County, Illinois.

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

Step 1: Fill Out the Documents Required for a Divorce

The first step is to fill out the required documents. Having an attorney from start to finish in a divorce is the best way to ensure you get the best outcome possible. To start working with one of our divorce attorneys, call Sterling Law Offices.

The first key document you will need to complete is the petition for dissolution of marriage or civil union. In this document, the following information will need to be provided:

  • Date of marriage or civil union
  • Location of marriage or civil union
  • Date of separation
  • Addresses of both spouses
  • Employment information for both spouses
  • Whether either spouse is a social security recipient
  • Whether either spouse owns or has an interest in real estate
  • Whether either spouse has a pension or retirement account
  • Whether either spouse has a claim for damages (i.e., worker's compensation or personal injury)
  • List of properties owned (real estate or personal)
  • List of debts
  • Spousal support (if applicable)

If there are children involved, then the names and birthdays of the children the spouses have must be included on the petition as well. Note that the petition document is different depending on whether there are children involved. Both documents can be downloaded from our Illinois Divorce Forms page.

The list of required documents also includes the financial affidavit and the proof of service. If there are children involved, you will also need to create a parenting plan that outlines the parenting time and parental responsibilities.

The spouse will also need to complete a summons sheet and an affidavit of military service (if applicable).

Step 2: File the Forms with the Court

The second step is to take these completed forms and file them with the circuit clerk. The forms are usually filed online. If you do file them in person, you take them to the 8th floor of the Daley Center at 50 W Washington Street or to any suburban municipal district courthouse. The case for the divorce begins once the paperwork and documents are filed with the court.

Step 3: Inform the Spouse of the Divorce

The spouse who petitioned for the divorce must inform the other spouse of the divorce filing. They can arrange summons service by the sheriff, publish a notice of the divorce in the newspaper (if the address of the spouse is not known), or the other spouse may agree to appear voluntarily.

Usually, the spouse has 30 days from service to make their response. If they do not respond, the divorce will still continue.

Are you ready to move forward? Call (312) 757-8082 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to file for divorce in Cook County, Illinois?

In Cook County, it costs $388 to begin the divorce case as the petitioner. The person responding also has to pay $250 for the appearance fee. If you need a sheriff to serve that other party, there is a $60 fee for that. If you go through mediation, you can file jointly with your spouse and that is cheaper.

Where do I go to file divorce papers in Cook County?

Usually divorce papers are filed online. If you do file them in person, you can do that on the 8th floor of the Daley Center or at a suburban courthouse.

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

The length of a divorce depends on several factors. The key factor is how much parties disagree. The more disagreement, the longer the divorce will take. How busy the court commissioners or judges is also a factor. The judges in Cook County are quite busy, so a divorce can take up to a year in Cook County.

How do I file an uncontested divorce in Cook County?

To file for an uncontested divorce in Cook County, you need to file a joint petitioner. Look at our uncontested divorce article to learn more.

How can I get a quick divorce in Chicago?

In Cook County, there is the option to file for a joint simplified dissolution if parties meet the requirements. This is the fastest form of a divorce and can be finished in as little as a few days. Only people with no kids and little property are able to use this method.

Reference: 1. 750 ILCS § 5. Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

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