Divorce Process in Illinois

Divorce Process in Illinois

Divorce Process in Illinois


Guide to the Divorce Process in Illinois


Divorce laws can be complex and hard to break down.  If you're contemplating divorce in Illinois, you may wonder how the divorce process in Illinois works.  For the most part, divorce is handled in a similar way to most civil suits.  This guide will help you to navigate the divorce process in Illinois by breaking it down into understandable steps.


Petition and Response


While you may or may not have discussed divorce during your marriage, the official divorce process in Illinois begins when one spouse (called the petitioner) files a divorce petition at your local courthouse.  The petitioning spouse will need to state the grounds for the divorce, even if the grounds are “irreconcilable differences,” which is Illinois's catch-all phrase for no-fault divorces.


In addition to specifying grounds for divorce, the petitioner must also ask for what he or she wants.  Asking for the divorce itself is part of this, but asking for an equitable division of property and child custody or visitation arrangements may also be part of the “relief” requested by the petitioner.


The divorce petition will be served to the other spouse (called the “respondent”) officially, and then the respondent will have 30 days to file a response to the petition.  If no answer is given, the judge can divide the marital property and divorce is granted by default judgment.  If the answer is given in the time limit, the next step of the divorce process in Illinois will begin.




Because dividing property is so important in a divorce case, the next step of the divorce process in Illinois, called “discovery,” is basically an investigation into the financial situation for both spouses.  You will not be able to transfer assets during your divorce case, and the discovery process will examine all your assets closely so the judge can divide all marital property fairly.




Many times, couples are able to save money and time during the divorce process in Illinois by negotiating a settlement.  If you can figure out how to agree about the division of your property, as well as all child custody and visitation issues, you can draft a settlement agreement, which must be approved by the court for it to be official.


Pretrial Conference


If you cannot negotiate a settlement, the next step of the divorce process in Illinois is for the judge to hold a pretrial conference in their chambers.  The judge can discuss any remaining issues for negotiation, and make official judicial recommendations for a settlement.




If the spouses still cannot agree after the judge has issued these recommendations, you may have to go through the hassle and expense of a divorce trial.  This aspect of the divorce process in Illinois can take just a day, but may take weeks if there are many complex issues being discussed.  Witnesses, including expert witnesses, may be brought in to argue about child custody, the value of marital property, and so on.  At the end of the trial, your judge will issue a final divorce judgment, which makes your divorce final and decides all issues in dispute.




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