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How to file for “no-fault” divorce in Illinois

In some states in the U.S., you need to prove infidelity, abusive behavior or any other grounds that your marriage vows have been broken as grounds for divorce. 

Illinois, however, is a no-fault state. That means that all you have to show is “irreconcilable differences” as your grounds for divorce. 

Prior to 2016, Illinois residents had to prove fault when seeking a divorce. There were 10 options for proving that you had grounds for a divorce. However, the courts recognized that this was not in the best interest of its citizens and did away with the rule that you prove fault.

Now the process for filing for an uncontested, no-fault divorce in Illinois is much simpler. Working with your experienced family law attorney, you’ll follow some easy steps to complete your divorce so that you can move forward with your life. However, if there are any matters that are contested, the process becomes more involved.

How to file for an uncontested, no-fault divorce in Illinois

Before you can file for divorce, you must meet two criteria:

  • At least one of you have lived in the state for at least 90 days.
  • You and your spouse have lived separated for six months (although you can live in the same house but live technically apart) or you both waive this right with a written agreement.

Once you’ve met both criteria, you’re ready to file for a no-fault divorce in Illinois. Here are  some easy steps to filing for divorce.

1. Obtain and complete your county divorce forms

Each county within Illinois has different divorce forms you must complete. 

Choose which county you’ll be filing in (you or your ex-spouse must live in that county) and obtain the forms. Additionally, be sure that you obtain forms based on whether or not you and your spouse have children. These forms will help you navigate custody and child support in addition to dissolving your marriage.

Your McHenry Illinois divorce attorney can handle all paperwork for you. That’s one of the many benefits of hiring an attorney for your divorce proceedings.

2. Pull together all required information and documentation

Before you can file for divorce, you’ll need to gather up some information. Be prepared to present the following documentation to the courts:

    • Your marriage date and the address of where you were married.
    • The date you and your spouse separated.
    • Inclusive list of all personal property, including real estate, retirement accounts and all joint or separate bank accounts and assets.
    • Information on all debt you or your spouse have whether separate or joint during your marriage.
    • Information on children from your marriage to determine child custody and support.

3. File your forms with your local court’s office

Part of the difficulty in filing on your own (also known as “pro se”) is ensuring that you’ve completed the forms entirely and accurately. They are not the most self-explanatory forms if you’ve never been through a divorce before.  It’s best to have an Illinois divorce attorney to help you with this process. 

Once you file the documents and they are accepted, the clerk will issue your case number and assign your case to a judge. Furthermore, the clerk will issue a summons, which notifies your spouse that you’ve filed for divorce and that if they do not file an appearance, a default judgment may be taken against them.

4. Serving your spouse the summons

Now that your divorce filing is active in the court systems, you have options for how to deliver the summons to your spouse. These options include:

    • Paying a fee for the local sheriff to serve the papers.
    • Hiring a legally authorized private process server to serve the papers.
    • If your spouse cannot be located, there are provisions for publishing a notice in the local newspaper (for this, you must prove that you cannot locate your spouse to be permitted to serve the summons in this format and obtain to court’s permission to do so). Also, if you do not have personal service on the other party, there are limits on what the court can do as far as disposition of property and debts.

Once your spouse has been served, they have 30 days to file a response. If your spouse has been properly served with summons and failed to respond or otherwise plead to the divorce, you can have the matter set for finalizing the divorce.

5. Disclose your financials

For the courts to make a ruling on matters such as child support, maintenance (alimony) or how assets and liabilities should be divided , they must know what these assets are. That’s why you’ll need to disclose your financials during this point in the proceedings. The financial disclosure will include:

    • All assets.
    • Annual income, including salary, bonuses, stock market proceeds, etc.
    • Mortgage obligations.
    • Bills and debt obligations, such as credit card payments.
    • There are also forms for financial affidavits.

6. Your divorce court appearance

You must be present on your court date. Ideally, you should have an Illinois divorce attorney with you to argue your case and ensure a proper outcome. There are also some situations, with uncontested divorces, where divorces can be finalized without even appearing in court. This is done with filing the appropriate affidavits and pleadings.

During this hearing, the judge will rule on how you must divide your assets and liabilities,  spousal support payments (also known as maintenance or alimony), child support for any children from the marriage and custody matters (parenting plans dealing with parenting time and decision-making).

Hire Diamond Divorce Law today

Having an attorney by your side throughout a divorce ensures that the process moves through the courts smoothly. Additionally, you will have the comfort of knowing an experienced lawyer was looking out for your interests.

The attorneys at Diamond Divorce Law are skilled at helping individuals get the outcome they desire from divorce proceedings. Contact us for a consultation and case evaluation.

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