Divorce in Illinois

The Divorce in Illinois Handbook is a free resource for anyone seeking information about divorce in the State of Illinois. Within it you will learn:

  • How to file for divorce in Illinois
  • What constitutes grounds for divorce in Illinois
  • How much a divorce in Illinois costs

Divorce in Illinois is a very personal situation and there isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. This guide and any information you find on the Internet are simply pieces of information you can use to determine the best path for you, in your unique situation. We’ve done our best to provide honest, bias-free information about divorce in Illinois that we think you will find helpful during your process. However, this is not legal advice and strongly recommend you speak with an experienced attorney about your divorce in Illinois. Here are 3 reasons to call a divorce attorney right away when thinking about it. Even if you plan on filing yourself, there is great value in speaking with an attorney to get some high-level information about the process and make sure you have all the facts.

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A divorce in Illinois can be emotionally and financially draining. We totally understand that. As a family firm, we know better than others the impact a divorce can have on your day-to-day life. Unfortunately, it’s when everything is at peak chaos levels when you should be speaking with an attorney. Divorces can have serious and long-lasting financial and custodial ramifications. We want to be there to help you navigate the troubled time and ensure you obtain the best outcome possible.

Basics of Divorce in Illinois

Divorce in Illinois is referred to as a judgment of dissolution of marriage or the termination of marriage by court order. Marriage is a status that exists under Illinois state law. The law of the state wherein the parties reside controls the creation, existence, and dissolution of marriage. Illinois follows the modern trend of state divorce regulations; it requires only two things for the pleading of divorce:

  • a minimum reason of irreconcilable differences
  • the parties must meet the residency requirement

For divorce proceedings in Illinois, one party must have resided in Illinois for at least 90 days before filing. The case must be filed in the circuit court of the county where at least one party resides.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

The law of Illinois gives the husband and wife power to shape the terms of their divorce. In an uncontested divorce procedure, the parties and attorneys get together and negotiate a settlement covering all subjects including property, child custody, and support. Once agreed, the agreement goes to a court for review and approval. The court will make sure the agreement is clear and not against public policy. The court will particularly ensure that the agreement protects the interests of children.

A contested divorce leaves the resolution to the judge. The parties argue their sides of the story, and the court decides. In a contested divorce, the parties give up their power to control the outcome.

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Divorce Law in Illinois

Divorce laws in Illinois are covered in section 750 ILCS 5 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes called the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The Act is organized in the following sections:

  • Part I – General Provisions
  • Part II – Marriage
  • Part III – Declaration Of Invalidity Of Marriage
  • Part IV – Dissolution And Legal Separation
  • Part IV-A – Joint Simplified Dissolution Procedure
  • Part V – Property, Support And Attorney Fees
  • Part VI – Allocation Of Parental Responsibilities
  • Part VII – Miscellaneous
  • Part VIII – Application And Severability

To file for divorce in Illinois, one of the parties has to have been a resident of Illinois for 90 days.

When the filing partner has lived in the country for at least 90 days, however, the other partner never lived in Illinois or hasn’t committed an act within Illinois which would lead to him to come under the authority of this court, though a court may grant a divorce, it doesn’t have authority to dictate the non-resident partner to perform anything, for example, cover child support, move land, or repay any outstanding debts like student loans or a house mortgage.

Any individual who enters into a civil marriage in Illinois consents to the jurisdiction of the courts of Illinois with the intention of any action concerning a civil marriage even if both parties cease to live in Illinois. The Plaintiff, the filing partner, must file a copy of the Petition about the Respondent along with another partner.

A proceeding for dissolution of a civil marriage or declaration of invalidity of a civil marriage shall be entitled “In re the Civil Union of both … and …”.

The initial pleading in all proceedings for dissolution or invalidity will be termed as a Petition. A responsive pleading shall be termed as a Response. The rest of the pleadings will be denominated as provided in the Civil Practice Law.

The event shall be had in the county in which the Petitioner or Respondent resides or in which the parties’ certification of civil marriage has been issued, except as otherwise provided herein, but the procedure could be led to some county in the State. An objection to place is prohibited if not made in such period as the Respondent’s answer is due. In no event will the place be deemed jurisdictional.

In 2016, the state changed the divorce laws in Illinois to adjust the grounds needed for a divorce. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act abandoned the traditional fault system that required reasons such as cruelty, abuse, abandonment, or infidelity for a divorce.

The new rule, consistent with the national trend, requires only a pleading of irreconcilable differences, a period of separation, and residency. The change helps insulate divorce proceedings against undue exposure of your private details.

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Divorce Lawyers in Illinois

You have the option to hire a divorce lawyer in Illinois and pay them to handle everything related to the divorce, from paperwork to arguing in court.

You may be asking yourself, do I even need to hire a divorce lawyer? It’s a personal decision and there isn’t one right answer for everyone. As we’ve discussed, it is never too early to speak with a divorce attorney about the process, ramifications, cost, and your options. Many firms, like ours, offer a free initial consultation, which can help you wrap your head around the whole process and get a better sense of why you may want to utilize an attorney or not. Either way, you’ll leave with some added insight from an expert about what the path you’re about to go down at no cost.

Even if you are pursuing an uncontested divorce where you and your spouse agree on everything, you would nonetheless benefit from consulting with an experienced attorney. Working on their own, individuals may overlook important financial aspects of their relationship, such as retirement assets or insurance policies. A review of your situation by counsel will assure you that you have considered everything necessary for the best possible outcome. By using an attorney in this way, you can have confidence you are not missing any important details.

If yours is a contested divorce, an attorney can be even more helpful. In addition to reviewing your assets and handling the paperwork, in a contested divorce your attorney will represent you in court. A good attorney will handle the situation ethically, while aggressively advocating for you.

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How to File for Divorce in Illinois

If you have questions about how to file for divorce in Illinois or do not have the time to handle it yourself, an experienced family lawyer can help. In order to file for divorce in Illinois, you must first meet the residency requirement which states that one party must reside in the state for the 90 days prior to filing.

The next step is to go to the circuit court of the county of residence to fill out and file forms. You must fill out a form or prepare a petition for dissolution of marriage. Once filed, and the filing fee paid, the filing party must serve or deliver a copy of the petition to their spouse by process service or the Sheriff.

The three phases of filing for a divorce in Illinois are the temporary phase, the discovery phase, and the resolution phase, as described below.

  1. Temporary phase is the initial 30-60 days after filing in which the court can resolve or manage pressing issues such a restraint against an abusive spouse.
  2. Discovery phase is the fact-finding part where assets must be disclosed and confirmed, and issues like child support settled or referred to the court for resolution.
  3. Resolution phase is the settlement phase where parties present their settlement agreement to the court for review and acceptance. This phase identifies all remaining issues. Anything unresolved in this phase must be set before the court and adjudicated in a trial.

How long does a divorce take in Illinois?

There is not just one simple divorce process in Illinois, so it is hard to estimate how long your divorce may take in Illinois. The speed of a divorce in Illinois depends on both parties and their situations. Circumstances such as whether there is property or the vital interests of children at stake affect how long it takes to get a divorce in Illinois. The divorce trial itself usually lasts a day or two. However, in uncommon circumstances, a divorce trial in Illinois can take years until it is finally resolved.

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Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

The law provides for an uncontested divorce in Illinois. The advantages of uncontested or no-fault divorce are plentiful, including privacy and lower costs. No fault divorce pleads irreconcilable differences, and the parties do not need to show evidence before the court.

The law also provides for divorce on the grounds of fault. There may be a financial and legal advantage to proving fault. For example, if a prenuptial agreement is violated it may lead to advantages in property negotiations and spousal or child support. Accepted grounds for fault in Illinois divorce cases include the below-listed items:

  • Cruelty – mental or physical cruelty
  • Addiction – excessive use of drugs or alcohol for at least two years
  • Criminal Conviction – adjudication of a felony or “infamous” crime
  • Sex Issues – any instance of impotence, bigamy, or adultery
  • Abandonment – willful desertion for at least one year
  • Murder Attempt – malicious attempt to murder a spouse
  • STD – infecting the spouse with a sexually transmitted disease.

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Cost of Divorce in Illinois

If you’re facing divorce, you probably wonder what the cost of divorce in Illinois is. Unfortunately, there is no way to know in advance how much your divorce might cost in Illinois. However, the average costs of divorce nationally (as cited by some recent national surveys) are about $13,800, with costs ranging from $4,000 to $30,000. This is clearly a wide-ranging number, mainly because there are so many variables that go into a divorce. Filing fees are a known cost, they will change with each state, but then you can get into things like property assessments, mediation or attorney fees, other financial investigatory services, and a number of other factors. 

Although there is no free divorce in Illinois, there are ways to save and services that can help people with limited resources. You may be able to get assistance from volunteer attorneys and the local legal aid society. You can petition the court to proceed in forma pauperis, where the court can eliminate or reduce fees.

The normal cost to become divorced with Do-It-Yourself Divorce ranges from $300 to $1,500, based on the complexity of your situation and special courtroom and paperwork charges. Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll have to cover filing and court fees of around $300, together with extra costs coming from additional paperwork and valuations which could be needed by the courts based upon your individual circumstance.

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Do it Yourself Divorce in Illinois

Do it yourself (DIY) divorce in Illinois is a viable alternative to paying the potentially high fees of a divorce attorney. There are commercial services that offer divorce kits which advise how to file for divorce in Illinois without an attorney. They supply forms and instructions for how to file for divorce in Illinois without a lawyer and how to handle proceedings as a pro se party.

An affordable alternative to do-it-yourself divorce is a mediation. You can use a mediation service that accommodates in person or online interviews. If both parties consent, the mediator can collect all documents and information suggest compromises and incorporate the agreement into a binding memorandum of understanding. This memo will guide the divorce like a settlement agreement.

Just because a specific divorce procedure worked well for a buddy or co-worker, there’s absolutely no guarantee it’ll work nicely for you. Conversely, if a specific option might not have worked for somebody else, it does not necessarily indicate it is not a feasible choice for you.

It is important to spend some time to research each the choices and how they compare to one another. And not simply to use the least expensive alternative. There is too much at stake.

Help with DIY Divorce in Illinois

If you’re filing for yourself, there are still advantages to speaking with a divorce lawyer.

Free Consultation

The Law Offices of Andrew Nickel, LLC
(630) 553-7111
Prairie Pointe Dr., Suite 106
Yorkville, IL 60560

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