How to File for Divorce in Illinois

How to File for Divorce in Illinois

A Guide on How to File for Divorce in Illinois

There are many necessary steps required by the law if you are looking for guidance on how to file for divorce in Illinois. You can file without hiring a divorce attorney. However, you should keep in mind that most divorces involve negotiation and settlements. So, it is not recommended to go through one by yourself if your spouse has hired legal counsel. The process also gets extremely difficult when both parties cannot come to agreement on issues such as division of property, debts, marital support payments, child support payments, and child custody. Please continue reading for more helpful information and a step-by-step guide on how to file for divorce in Illinois.

Legal Requirements Before You File for Divorce

Illinois law requires that you must establish residency in the state for 90 days before you file for a divorce. This includes parties who are stationed in Illinois as part of the armed services. In addition, Illinois law requires proof that a marriage cannot be fixed. In many cases, the proof is provided when both parties agree to a divorce or physical separation is proved.

In cases where both parties do not agree on a divorce, the simplest way to prove grounds for divorce is by living apart for a period of six months. It is important to note that living apart does not mean the parties have to live in different dwellings. If you live in a different part of the same house or sleep in a different room from your spouse, you can prove that physical separation exists. However, a divorce can be delayed if both parties do not agree on the date that they became separated from one another.

Preparation of the Necessary Legal Documents

The next step in how to file for divorce in Illinois involves obtaining and filling out all the required legal paperwork. There are many documents involved in the process. The forms that you must complete include the following:

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • Financial Affidavit
  • Proof of Delivery to Your Spouse
  • Response to the Petition
  • Summons
  • Certification Agreement
  • Judgment of Dissolution

You must file the petition for divorce with the county court where you reside. There are fees to file for divorce that can vary from county to county. In addition, there are more fees involved in serving your spouse with a copy of the petition and for their response.

Information Gathering

Before you reach the next step of how to file for divorce in Illinois, you will likely need to gather more information about property, assets, debts, and other matters. You will need this information to fill out all the required legal documents before you file. Also, couples with kids will need to create a parenting plan. Often, there are disagreements on what schedule will work best for both the parents and the child involved. However, the courts prefer for parents to come to agreement on child custody on their own. Once all the information is gathered and forms are completed, it is time to file the paperwork. To avoid any delays or problems, it is recommended to rely on a qualified divorce attorney to prepare and file the paperwork that you will need for you.

Filing for Divorce and Serving Paperwork

The next step in how to file for divorce in Illinois involves filing the petition for marriage dissolution with the county court where you reside. Once the petition is filed, you will need to serve a copy of the petition for divorce to your spouse. Then, you will need to provide proof of their response to the petition. There are different ways to serve your spouse the paperwork including:

  • Voluntary Acceptance
  • Sheriff’s service – a member of the county sheriff’s office serves papers to your spouse, and you receive a proof of service document you file with the court.
  • Service by a process server
  • Service by publication – you publish notification of the divorce in a local newspaper because you are having trouble locating your spouse.
  • Service by a court order

The party being served divorce paperwork is known as the respondent. After being served the petition for divorce, the respondent has 30 days to provide a response to the paperwork. A court date will be scheduled following this process.

Divorce Negotiations and Mediation

The next step in how to file for divorce in Illinois depends upon the parties involved. Many divorces end without having to go to a trial. If parties agree on how to split property, assets, debts, and parental responsibilities, they can reach agreement outside of court. This is where having a divorce attorney with experience in negotiation and mediation can pay off. A qualified divorce lawyer can represent you during a settlement conference to work toward the best possible resolution for your circumstances. Though trials are sometimes required, parties can typically save emotional stress, money, and time by reaching a settlement.

Divorce Trials

If you are engaged in a contested divorce, many times a trial is necessary to resolve disagreements between spouses. In these kinds of cases, attorneys can spend months collecting evidence, negotiating, and working toward a resolution. During this time, numerous court appearances are held. If no agreement is reached, a trial is scheduled. These sorts of trials can take several days and even get spread out over several weeks. If the parties still cannot come to agreement, a judge will make final decisions about every matter involved in the divorce. The longer the contested divorce process goes on, the more expensive it is. In fact, a contested divorce process can cost those involved several thousand dollars.

How to File for Divorce in Illinois
A Final Word

If you need further assistance with how to file for divorce in Illinois, contact Brave Law Center, P.C. Our law firm practices family law and handles cases including divorce and child custody. We have offices in Peoria IL and Eureka IL. Our lawyers have years of experience with divorce cases in Peoria County IL, Tazewell County IL, Woodford County IL, and Fulton County IL. You can reach us through our online contact form or by emailing

Criminal, Divorce, Family Law Attorney in Peoria IL

330 NE Perry Ave., Peoria IL 61603

120 S Main St., Eureka, IL 61530

Criminal, Divorce, Family Law Attorney in Peoria IL


Criminal, Divorce, Family Law Attorney in Peoria IL