Illinois allows both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. The no-fault grounds for divorce are based on the couple living separate and apart for a period of time. This period is only 6 months for couples who agree on the divorce in writing, but 2 years for couples where only one member brings forth the divorce.

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Residency Requirements

To file for a no-fault divorce in Illinois, at least one spouse has to have resided in the state for at least 90 days.

Fill Out your Forms

To begin the process of divorce in Illinois you must first file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The person who files for the petition is called the petitioner, and their spouse is called the defendant or responder. Once this document is filed, the other spouse must be served this petition either by a private process server, or by the sheriff. However, the spouse is able to file papers individually or through an attorney submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the Court. Once these papers are filed the divorce case begins. 

You must obtain the forms for filing for divorce from your local Circuit Court. Specifically, the forms vary from county to county, enough so that there's been no standardization of the forms.

Divorcing parties in agreement about the terms of their divorce should consider using Rocket Lawyer’s easy interview process to outline their terms in a Divorce Settlement Agreement which can be filed with your Petition. Having a Divorce Settlement Agreement can prevent the need for a lengthy trial which is both time consuming and costly.

In Illinois a divorce can be split into three phases, the temporary phase, the discovery and investigation phase and the resolution phase.

The Temporary Phase

This phase is meant to stabilize the situation temporarily. Usually this phase is handled informally through each person’s attorney.  Periodically cases must be resolved by a Court hearing. If a case enters into a hearing during the temporary phase, the Court will enter in a Court Order which will bind each party until a final judgment is reached, the case is dismissed, or the case is settled.

The temporary phase’s goal is to keep up the status quo and solve any immediate issues that the family may be facing that would cause the divorce. In a domestic violence case for example, calling for a restraining order upon the domestic violence offender would be a type of temporary stabilization. However, a spouse does not have to leave the living condition if he or she is not harming the other spouse and or children. Anything day to day is handled in the temporary phase.

The Discovery Phase


This phase in the divorce involves the identification of the contested issues. Specifically, what assets, debts, children and/or property did the couple share? If little is contested as far as assets and debts, some couples may choose to waive formal discovery. However, in many cases a spouse wants to be certain that the estimate provided by their spouse is true and attributable. In this case, formal discovery is necessary. In formal discovery requests are made for documents and financial statements.

During the discovery phase parents are also supposed to determine what type of custody they are fighting for. If parents are fighting for physical custody of the child, often the parents must attend Mediation (and alternative dispute system that employs a trained family law mediation who attempts to resolve all the disputes). Also, the court might appoint a “Guardian Aid” to the child. The Guardian Aid advocates for the best interests of the child and reports to the court in attempts to finding what living situation and custody situation is best for the child.

This phase is a bit ambiguous. For some couples this phase is the longest and the most drawn out, for others where their assets are easy to identify and they have no children this phase could almost be virtually eliminated.

The Resolution Phase

This phase is usually where the case settles. Each case is different, but with compromise many cases can find a settlement. It becomes impractical to fight over little things, and once a divorce has reached this stage the process itself has been going on for at least 3 months. The experience is trying and a settlement is usually in the best interest of almost everyone. If a case is being settled then the settlement documents are then prepared and signed by both parties. A short hearing is then held in front of a Judge. This “Prove – Up” Hearing is meant so that the judge can hear what the circumstances and settlement are. If the judge finds this settlement unfair (i.e. he or she deems that the settlement is not equitable) then he can reject the settlement, however this instance is rare.

Of course if there are large contested issues, such as custody, the case goes before a Judge without a jury. The Judge then decides how things will be divided based on the evidence collected in the discovery phase. A trial can last anywhere from a week to several years, with a resolution coming over a long period of time.   

Whether or not your divorce goes to trial, if you feel like you need help don't hesitate to contact a lawyer. You can Find a Lawyer who's right for your situation and needs using Rocket Lawyer.

Get started Visit our Divorce Center Get divorce documents and ask a lawyer your questions.

Get started Visit our Divorce Center Get divorce documents and ask a lawyer your questions.