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How to Start a Divorce in Illinois

Every divorce in Illinois starts with the filing of certain paperwork in the appropriate court. However, there are many other steps to consider before filing. Divorce is often a very confusing process, and legal help is essential. Below, our Illinois divorce lawyers outline the steps to take before filing for divorce.

Identify Whether Your Marriage Has Broken Down

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state and has done away with “grounds” for divorce, such as infidelity or abandonment. Instead, a court will grant a divorce if the marriage has broken down and future attempts at reconciliation would be futile.

Whether a marriage is “irretrievably broken” is rarely in dispute. However, 750 ILCS 5/401 states that if you have lived apart for six straight months before filing for a divorce, then you have conclusively proven this fact.

Find the Correct Court to File

You can only request a divorce from the correct court. In Illinois, you must have lived in the state for at least 90 days before filing. This means you cannot “fly in” and get a quickie divorce, as Illinois courts will lack necessary jurisdiction to hear your case.

You also must file for divorce in the county where either spouse lives. For example, it might be more convenient to file in the county where you live if your soon-to-be ex lives somewhere else.

Prepare Your Divorce Forms

You can only divorce with a court’s approval, and you must submit necessary information using certain forms. Each county requests slightly different forms, so visit your local court to obtain the correct paperwork.

Generally, everyone will need to complete and submit a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This form requests certain information, such as each spouse’s age, the date of marriage, and information about the couple’s children. You might qualify to request a joint simplified divorce in certain circumstances.

Those who are divorcing with children have even more paperwork requirements. For example, a judge will want to see a parenting plan and a visitation schedule. Your county court might have forms for you to complete, or you can work with an attorney to ensure you are submitting all the appropriate forms.

File and Serve the Paperwork

You can file your paperwork with the county clerk. Prepare to pay the filing fee, which can be several hundred dollars, depending on the court. You should call ahead of time to find out the exact amount and acceptable methods of payment. If you are unable to pay, request a fee waiver form.

Your spouse gets a chance to respond to the allegations in your petition, so they must receive a copy of any paperwork you file. Service of process is not optional; you must follow specific rules for making proper service. Typically, you will have the sheriff or a private process server hand the paperwork to your spouse.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer for Assistance

A divorce is often more complicated than many people anticipate. For this reason, hiring an experienced Illinois divorce lawyer is in your best interests. For immediate help, contact Demetrios N. Dalmares & Associates, Ltd. today to request a consultation.

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