How to File for Divorce in Illinois

How to File for Divorce
in Illinois

Divorce is a complicated process that has many ins and outs. Couples seeking divorce often get confused by all the procedures. That is why it is crucial to know the peculiarities of divorce before starting.

The following is essential information about how to file for divorce in Illinois.

Residency Requirements

Before filing for divorce, it is required to meet specific residency requirements in Illinois.

Family law dictates that at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for at least 90 days before filing.

Grounds for Divorce

Grounds for divorce are regulations that provide the court with information about what led to divorce. Different states have different lists of reasons, but there are two main types:

  • No-fault based grounds
  • Fault-based grounds

No-Fault Grounds

Illinois is one of the strictly no-fault states. No-fault divorce means that a petitioner can initiate the divorce process by simply stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken and there are no chances of repairing it.

Fault Grounds

Illinois used to have a rather standard list of fault-based grounds for divorce:

  • Impotence;
  • Adultery;
  • Bigamy;
  • Willful abandonment for a minimum of one year;
  • Alcohol and/or drug addiction for at least 2 years;
  • Attempted murder of spouse and/or child;
  • Extreme consistent mental and/or physical abuse of spouse and/or child;
  • Conviction of a felony;
  • Infecting the spouse with a sexually transmittable disease.

However, these grounds were effectively abandoned by lawmakers in 2016. However, it does not mean that the judge will totally ignore fault accusations.

They might play a role when it comes to child custody, visitation times, and distribution of assets. Everything depends on the details of the case and the judge’s decisions regarding the matter.

How to File an Uncontested Divorce

Divorce becomes uncontested if both spouses resolve their differences outside of the court. There are several requirements for a case to be considered uncontested:

  • Partners reach an agreement regarding the divorce method;
  • Spouses reach an agreement regarding child support, alimony, division of assets, distribution of debts, property division, and so on;
  • Spouses agree that the marriage is unrepairable;
  • At least one of the partners meets state-specific residency requirements.

The petitioner must fill out all the basic documents to initiate divorce. This document package aims to provide the court with details of the case.

The list of required basic divorce forms for an uncontested divorce includes:

  • Summons;
  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union;
  • Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union;
  • Entry of Appearance;
  • Financial Affidavit.

If a couple has minor children, the list is complemented with the following forms:

  • Parenting Plan;
  • Child Support Worksheet;
  • Parenting Class.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

Spouses can also file for a joint simplified dissolution of marriage. There are several requirements for this scenario to be enabled:

  • Spouses are married for less than 8 years;
  • The couple has no born or adopted children;
  • Joint annual income cannot exceed $35,000;
  • Neither spouse has a gross annual revenue of more than $20,000;
  • The total value of marital property owned by both spouses is less than $10,000;
  • Neither partner owns real estate.

The list of required documents for a joint simplified divorce is below:

  • Joint Simplified Affidavit;
  • Petition for Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage;
  • Judgment for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.


The state of Illinois has an alternative filing procedure as well. Now, it is possible to file one’s divorce forms electronically! Here are several steps on how to do so:

  1. Visit the administrative Office of Illinois Courts website to find all the required electronic forms. Fill them out and go to the next step;
  2. Visit the eFileIL website and create an account. Now, create a new case;
  3. The final step is to e-file the divorce papers. It is important to double-check that all the documents are in PDF format.


This is the cheapest scenario for a divorce and rather straightforward as well. Basically, spouses go through the whole process by themselves, without an attorney.

The first step is to get on the same page with one’s partner. Spouses should discuss essential matters such as spousal support, child custody, division of assets and debts, etc.

After this critical step, the initiator spouse, also called the petitioner, can fill out and file divorce forms with the local court clerk.

However, this divorce path has its downsides:

  • Couples with a lack of knowledge often make mistakes when filling out forms;
  • It may take a lot longer than needed;
  • Avoidance of qualified assistance can lead to various disputes and conflicts.

Without a Lawyer

Spouses who decide to go for an uncontested divorce often do so without an attorney to save money. The reason is rather simple - the cost of divorce can jump to $6,000-$10,000, depending on the hourly rate of a divorce lawyer.

Still, going through a divorce without professional assistance can become quite a challenge. That is why it is important to evaluate one’s abilities to navigate family law and decide whether to hire a lawyer or not.

Still, those who proceed without an attorney can get professional help with paperwork using online divorce tools, like Online Illinois Divorce.

How to File a Contested Divorce

A divorce becomes contested when spouses cannot reach an agreement regarding important issues such as spousal support (alimony), child custody, child support, property division, division of debts, etc.

Such a scenario almost always requires professional assistance. That is why the majority of contested divorce cases involve lawyers. A professional divorce attorney can represent one’s interests in the court and often is one of the most critical keys to winning a case.

The first step after finding an attorney is to file a petition with the local county court. Divorce forms need to be properly served to the receiving party - the respondent (defendant).

It is important to remember that a petitioner must make several copies of the documents. A copy stays with the filing spouse and one’s lawyer, the second goes to the court, and the final copy of the document package is for the receiving spouse.

The contested divorce in Illinois is accompanied by a discovery process. It is an important step that allows both parties’ attorneys to get a closer look at the details of the case, thus making the divorce process as fair as possible for both sides.

It can also lead to requests to obtain additional information regarding income, assets, debts, and child custody. Discovery may lead to in-person meetings of both parties and their representative divorce attorneys.

The majority of contested divorce cases often lead to a settlement. It means that both parties can reach an agreement regarding the contested issues via their attorneys’ assistance or through alternative means such as mediation. If that is not the case, the divorce effectively moves to a court trial.

A divorce trial leads to litigation using the following series of events:

  • An attorney presents arguments and evidence to the judge;
  • Witnesses are involved in the trial as well, if there are any (this may include child psychologists, forensic accountants, etc.);
  • The judge listens to both sides of the conflict and makes decisions regarding unresolved issues.

If one party believes the ruling is unfair, they can request a post-trial appeal or motion.

Filing Fees

Illinois is a rather liberal state when it comes to the service process. The state allows spouses to serve documents in person. There are other options as well.


The papers can be served via anyone over 18 other than the petitioner. It is possible to hire an attorney, county sheriff, or a licensed private investigator to do the job.


If the respondent is aware of the petitioner’s intent, there is another option - the former can physically retrieve the summons in a designated location. However, this may not be an option for spouses who do not wish to see each other in person.

Certified Mail

It is possible to serve the papers through a trackable certified mail service. Still, the petitioner has to receive a writ of receipt as proof of service for the court.


This option is traditionally used by the spouse who cannot locate the receiving partner. After unsuccessful attempts at finding the spouse, the petitioner can place an advertisement in the local newspaper that falls under the county’s jurisdiction. The court grants this option as a last resort after the petitioner has used all possible methods of locating the defendant.

Serving Documents

The term “online divorce” may be a little bit misleading at first. Most people think that this method allows going through the whole ordeal using a laptop. Actually, online divorce is a method of preparing divorce forms through an Internet service provider.

It is an excellent option for people who want to save money on divorce attorneys and go through a divorce process by themselves. It is important to understand online divorce is only applicable to uncontested cases where spouses can sort out their differences.

Divorce forms preparation is usually the most complicated part of an uncontested divorce without a lawyer. Navigating through family law and all the required papers can be tiresome and stressful, but online divorce companies change the situation.

Online Illinois Divorce allows a petitioner to easily prepare all the divorce forms from the comfort of one’s home without any stress.

The process is simple - go through an easy-to-understand online questionnaire, follow the simple instructions, and receive ready-to-sign divorce papers within just 2 business days.

Online Divorce

Most people have incorrect ideas about the concept of online divorce. It does not mean that spouses can go through the whole process via some website. Actually, online divorce is a service for preparing divorce documentation via the Internet.

This option is a great way to save lots of money on divorce attorneys for partners who can find common ground and apply for an uncontested divorce.

Preparation of divorce papers is often the most complicated part, even if spouses agree to end their marriage. In most cases, divorce attorneys charge an hourly rate, and their services for paperwork preparation can become quite expensive for the petitioner.

However, Online Illinois Divorce changes everything. The petitioner can prepare documents from the comfort of home for an affordable price.

All it takes is going through an online questionnaire to provide details of the divorce. The petitioner receives ready-to-sign divorce papers and filing instructions in just two business days.

The platform is easy-to-use and straightforward. As a result, even people without a legal background can prepare their papers without any effort and without an attorney.

Here’s how our process works.
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