How To File For Divorce In Illinois?

Updated on 06/15/2022 / Under

Getting a divorce can be emotionally draining and stressful. If the divorce is friendly, you may find it easy to handle things even without needing legal representation. However, when you have issues of communication with your spouse or you seem to agree on matters like child custody and support, and how you should divide your property, you may need the help from a local divorce attorney.

How to file for divorce?

In Illinois, divorce is referred to as the dissolution of marriage. There are two kinds of divorce, namely: fault-based and the no-fault divorce. In a fault divorce, it requires that one spouse proves the other has engaged in marital misconduct that had led to divorce. With the no-fault divorce, you don't need to prove that the breakup has been caused by your spouse - you simply state your marriage is "irretrievably broken."

That being said, how do you go about filing for divorce in Illinois?

Prepare Divorce Forms

From the Illinois Legal Aid Online resource page, you can find information about the divorce process and forms. You need to determine the divorce type you want to file. There are different things the court will consider when looking at the divorce.

You will have to gather and complete the necessary forms. You can find the standard divorce forms that the Illinois Supreme Court publishes.

Depending on the county where you reside, you may need additional or even different forms. Take, for example; the Cook County Circuit Court provides you a link where you can find divorce forms, so you want to consider checking with the circuit court clerk in your areas to see if there are specific forms that you may need to fill in your county.

That being said, you will also need to file what is known as the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This is a written request that says you seek divorce. In the forms, you will see terms like the "defendant" or "respondent" and "plaintiff" or "petitioner."

The spouse filing for divorce petitions is referred to as the plaintiff, while the other takes the defendant's role. If you have a minor, you will be required to file additional forms, including the Joint Parenting Agreement, Uniform Order of Support, and Visitation Form.

For Illinois couples who do not have minors and have minimal assets, they file a different form known as Joint Simplified Divorce. This kind of divorce utilizes different forms from the typical divorce fling. You can check with your court clerk's office in your local area.

Filing the Forms

Petition for divorce form

When you fill out the forms, you should file them with the court's clerk. You may find the clerk's office within the courthouse. If the office is not located in the courthouse, just inquire, and you will be directed to its location. You will have to pay a fee for filing the forms when you deliver them to the clerk. You may want to call the clerk's office before you go to file the forms. This will help you know what amount of fee you need to pay.

Related: How much will a divorce cost?

The fee may vary, expect to pay somewhere between $200 and $350 depending on your area. It is also possible that you can get a fee waiver based on your financial situation. You can find information regarding fee waivers from Illinois' Legal Aid website resource.

Serving your Spouse

You need to "serve" your spouse via the sheriff's office or private process server. The court may also permit you to use a non-party who is over 18 to deliver the forms. When it comes to "serving" the other spouse, it simply means providing them with copies of your divorce documents that have been filed in the case. If the sheriff office delivers the papers, you get a proof-of-service document that you should file with the court.

If you are filing a fault-based complaint, there are different things that you can cite as the grounds for divorce. For example, you can state that impotence, bigamy, adultery, or felony conviction as the reason for divorce. You may also state that abandonment for a specific period of extreme mental and physical cruelty or drug addiction is the reason for wanting to divorce.

Since Illinois courts seldom consider the fault of each spouse as the foundation for dividing property, many couples will not bother having a list of the reasons for divorce in a fault-based divorce.

Sometimes, you find that your spouse isn't within reach, for example, he or she is in jail, is deployed with state missions like military, or he or she is not in the state, you should seek an alternative serving method. You can check with the court clerk in your area to find out more about the service rules in situations that seem extraordinary for divorce forms' serving.

Related: How to prepare for divorce?

Financial Disclosures

Many counties require that both spouses file a Financial Disclosure Statement. This document is filed with the court at the time of a divorce process. The disclosures demand each party to provide a list of their assets, income sources, debts, mortgage expenses, and even credit card bills, among other financial details. With Financial Disclosures, they help make the process involving the division of marital property a straightforward one. Also, the disclosures help the judges to decide on alimony as well as the child support awards.


In essence, these are the steps you need to take when you want to file for divorce in Illinois. The process of filing for divorce is just straightforward when you know how to go about it. Make sure you are precise with the information and fill the details correctly in the forms.

To file a dissolution of marriage based on no-fault divorce, you and your spouse should have resided in Illinois for not less than three months. You should also have lived separately in which case; you stay like just roommates and not like a spouse.

You need to realize that living separately doesn't mean staying apart or being physically separated; it means that you're just not living as a spouse anymore. You could be in the same house, but you don't live like a spouse.

Chicago Divorce Attorneys

Our Chicago family lawyers are here to help you with any divorce issue, including property division, alimony, child support, and child custody. To schedule a free consultation, give us a call or send us a text to (312) 756.8600. We will be happy to assist you with your divorce process.