Filing for divorce doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Here’s everything on how to file for divorce in Illinois.
To file for divorce in Illinois, an individual must meet all Illinois residency requirements. To get a divorce in Illinois, at least one spouse must live in the state for a minimum of 90 days before filing.
Grounds for Divorce
Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning the courts do not need proof a spouse’s actions led to the divorce. With a no-fault divorce, only one spouse must consent to end the marriage, rather than both.
An Illinois court will find ground to grant a divorce if:
- Irreconcilable differences cause the breakdown of the marriage (with virtually no chance of reconciliation)
- The spouses live “separate and apart” for a continuous period of 6 or more months immediately before the entry of the divorce judgment
Types of Divorce
Two types of divorce include: contested and uncontested. A contested divorce occurs when spouses agree on all divorce-related matters, such as child custody, property division, and other issues. An uncontested divorce occurs when spouses disagree on at least one divorce-related matter and must request the court’s involvement.
Uncontested divorces can be faster and more affordable with no court interference. Instead, the judge only needs to review and approve the spouses’ marital settlement agreement and issue a divorce decree.
How to File an Uncontested Divorce in Illinois
Prior to filing for an uncontested divorce, spouses must decide and agree on all divorce-related matters, including the following:
- Dividing marital property
- Dividing responsibility for marital debts
- Child custody, including a visitation schedule and child support
- Medical insurance coverage for minor children, if applicable
- Spousal maintenance (i.e., alimony)
- Any other marriage/divorce-related disputes
After spouses agree on these matters, they must file paperwork for an uncontested divorce in Illinois. Check with your county clerk’s office for what you’ll need to file.
Most Illinois courts require:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union
- Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union
Two types of judgment forms apply: one for couples with children and one for couples without children
- Parenting Plan (if you have children)
- Summons (if needed)
- Entry of Appearance (if needed—use this form if your spouse doesn’t need to be served with a summons)
Varying circumstances may require a spouse to file different or more documents.
Joint Simplified Dissolution
A Joint Simplified Dissolution is an expedited form of uncontested divorce. Couples qualify for a joint simplified dissolution if all of the following statements are true:
- Spouses meet the Illinois residency requirements and complete all the forms together
- Spouses are married for no longer than eight years
- Spouses have no children (and none are expected)
- Spouses agree to an uncontested divorce based on irreconcilable differences and meet the requirements for living separate and apart for the last six months
- Spouses do not own any real property or retirement benefits (other than IRAs with a combined value of less than $10,000)
- The marital property value is less than $50,000
- Neither spouse earns more than $30,000 a year, and the spouses’ combined annual income is no more than $60,000
- Spouses exchange full information on assets and liabilities (including tax returns covering the entire period of your marriage)
- Spouses permanently waive any right to receive alimony
- Spouses sign a written agreement dividing all of your personal property worth more than $100, allocating your debts, and allocating ownership of and responsibility for any pets that you own
How to File a Contested Divorce in Illinois
A contested divorce case begins when a spouse files a petition for divorce (dissolution) with the court.
In Illinois, many of the documents necessary for a contested divorce are the same for an uncontested divorce. Remember to read each form carefully to ensure you are completing the correct form for your divorce.
After the other spouse responds to the petition, the court will schedule a date for a hearing. If your court’s clerk does not automatically schedule a hearing date, you should request one.
The judge decides any divorce-related matter spouses disagree over.
Following the hearing, if the judge has enough information to make a decision, the judge may enter a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage immediately. However, if the judge needs more time to decide, the court will alert the parties when the judge makes the final decision.
When Will My Contested Divorce be Finalized?
A contested divorce can take six months to two years before finalizing–depending on how many divorce-related issues spouses disagree on.
Illinois Filing Fees
Along with filing the correct paperwork, you must also pay court filing fees. Filing fees in Illinois vary from county to county. Contact your local county clerk to find out more about the fees.
If you cannot afford to pay the filing fees, request a fee waiver by filing an Application for Waiver of Court Fees. If the court grants your request to waive fees, you will not pay any court costs, such as filing fees, during your divorce.
Serving Your Spouse
Following the filing of the paperwork, you must notify/serve your spouse with the divorce documents.
Methods to serve your spouse in Illinois are:
Service of Summons and Petition
You can hire the sheriff in the county where your spouse lives to serve them with the divorce documents, either in-person or by mail.
Entry of Appearance
Your spouse can agree to waive service by filling out and filing an Entry of Appearance form.
Related: Illinois Divorce FAQs