(1) You or your spouse must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days and separate from each other for a specific length of time.
(2) Consult with and select an attorney that can meet your needs and expectations.
(3) To initiate an action, your attorney will prepare and file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (written request for a divorce). The spouse that files the divorce petition is called the “Petitioner” and the other spouse is called the “Respondent.”
(4) If the other spouse is being served with the divorce papers then a Summons will also be prepared. Illinois law allows the filing spouse to “serve” the other spouse by private process server, sheriff’s service, or publication. “Service” is simply the process of providing the other side with copies of the documents filed in the case. Sheriff’s service is the preferred method of service in most Illinois counties. Once the sheriff has delivered your papers, you will receive a proof of service document, which you must file with the court. If you can’t locate your spouse, Illinois law also allows you to publish notification of the divorce in a local newspaper. Service by publication can cost several hundred dollars, however, so it’s best to exhaust all efforts to track down an address before resorting to this option.
(5) Once served, the other party has 30 days to file an Appearance in the case, individually or through counsel to avoid being in “default.”
(6) Compile your financial documents, including income tax returns, year-to-date income, bank statements, retirement/investment account statements, credit card statements and the like. You can use this information to complete the requisite Financial Affidavit, which is often utilized in conjunction with settlement discussions and/or the formal discovery process.
(7) If you and your spouse settle your case before it goes to trial, Illinois law requires you to present your agreement and all related documents at a “prove up” hearing, which will be the day of your divorce.
If you are contemplating divorce, reach out to the attorneys at www.wardfamilylawchicago.com for a free initial consultation.
Jennifer R. Ward has exclusively practiced in the matrimonial and family law field for nearly 20 years. Furthermore, Ms. Ward is Adjunct Faculty at the John Marshall Law School teaching family law legal drafting to law students and has done so since 2005.