Illinois Divorce & Separation Paperwork

By Victoria McGrath

Illinois courts offer a joint, simplified divorce for couples with no children and limited assets. This type of divorce only requires four documents, including the final judgment issued by the court. For more complicated divorce cases, with significant marital assets or children's issues to resolve, you can file a petition for dissolution of marriage. If you want to end your relationship and divide your lives, but not end your marriage, use a petition for legal separation. If you and your spouse agree to the divorce or legal separation, property distribution, child support, child custody, spousal support and all other pertinent issues, your case proceeds as an uncontested matter. If you and your spouse do not agree on all issues, your case moves to trial as a contested matter.

Joint Simplified Divorce

Step 1

Verify that you meet the residency requirements to file for a divorce in Illinois. You or your spouse must reside in the state, for at least 90 days, before you file for divorce. Determine the correct county court to file your court documents, based on your zip code. Divorce documents and procedures vary by county.

Step 2

File a joint simplified divorce with your spouse, if you and you spouse agree to the divorce and meet all basic requirements. Confirm that you have been married for less than 8 years, separated for at least 6 months, do not own real estate and do not have children together, natural or adopted. You and your spouse must make less than $35,000 together, less than $20,000 individually and cannot possess more than $10,000 in personal property.

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Step 3

Complete the paperwork for a joint simplified divorce, including a Joint Petition, a Joint Affidavit and a Joint Agreement on Assets and Debts. File the three documents with the Circuit Clerk's Office, and pay the filing fee or apply for a fee waiver. Request an Application for Waiver of Court Cost, if applicable.

Step 4

Set-up a court date when you file your joint simplified divorce. Appear at court with your spouse on the scheduled court date for the judge to sign the judgement for divorce. Some counties offer "walk-in" dates for joint simplified divorces to allow you to file, go to court and obtain a judgement on the same day.

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage

Step 1

Complete a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage for a divorce with or without children. State the specific grounds for your divorce of mental cruelty, physical cruelty, drug addiction or drunkenness, or select irreconcilable differences. For a no-fault divorce under irreconcilable difference, you and your spouse must be separated for 2 years. However, you and your spouse can sign a waiver after 6 months of separation if you both agree to the divorce.

Step 2

File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and a Summons to appear in court. Pay the filing fee or request an Application for a Waiver of Court Cost. Obtain two copies of the Petition and Summons filed with the court, one copy for yourself and one for your spouse.

Step 3

Pay an additional fee for the sheriff's deputy to hand-deliver a copy of the Petition and Summons to your spouse. Your spouse can waive service and submit an Entry of Appearance, Waiver and Consent form if he agrees to the divorce. If you cannot locate your spouse, request service by publication. If your spouse fails to answer or to appear, file a default judgement.

Step 4

File a marital settlement agreement if you and your spouse agree to resolve all major issues in your divorce, such as property division and spousal support or maintenance.

Step 5

Meet with the judge regarding child related issues, including child support, child custody and visitation schedules. Attend a court-ordered parenting class within 60 days of your first meeting with the judge. Provide proof to the court, once you fulfill the parenting education requirement.

Step 6

Go to court for the judge to approve your marital settlement agreement, child support and child custody arrangements. Or, alternatively, go to trial for the judge to hear and to decide all issues still under dispute. Obtain a final judgment for divorce.

Petition for Legal Separation

Step 1

Complete a petition for legal separation if you seek separation rather than divorce. Legal separation is similar to divorce, in that both require you to resolve property, custody, visitation, support and maintenance issues through the court. Legal separation also affects wills, inheritance and estate planning. It, however, does not dissolve your marriage.

Step 2

File the Petition for Legal Separation and a Summons at your local county courthouse. Pay the filing fee or request an Application for Waiver of Court Cost. Obtain two copies of the Petition and Summons, one for your records and one to send your spouse.

Step 3

Serve the Petition and Summons to your spouse through certified mail or a process server. Alternatively, your spouse can file an Entry of Appearance, Waiver and Consent if he agrees to waive service. His signature must be notarized.

Step 4

File a marital separation agreement to resolve all relevant issues such as property division, spousal support, child support and child custody. Complete a joint parenting order form if you and your spouse seek joint custody. Meet with a mediator or Friend of the Court to help mediate unresolved issues.

Step 5

Proceed to court for the judge to approve your marital settlement agreement, child custody and child support issues. Attach a copy of any written agreements to a completed Judgement of Legal Separation for the judge to approve. Alternatively, prepare for trial, if you and your spouse fail to resolve all major issues. The judge hears and decides all issues in dispute. Obtain a judgement for legal separation.

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