3 Steps in the Illinois Divorce Process

Starting a divorce proceeding feels like beginning any difficult task — you simply want it to be over as quickly as possible. Dissolving a marriage rarely happens quickly, however, as the parties move through a process of legal, personal, familial, financial and social separation there are consistent steps to follow.

Read more about the Illinois divorce process here.

With so much to read, no wonder the Illinois divorce process is overwhelming for most people. The caring legal experts at Sterk Family Law Group are committed to assisting clients with a range of issues that emerge throughout the Illinois divorce process.

We know that divorce in Illinois doesn’t happen quickly, but taking a step-by-step approach makes the process more manageable. It may be helpful to view the number of steps in the Illinois divorce process as having three major components.

Step 1 in the Illinois divorce process: Preparing to file

The Illinois divorce process begins with making some decisions about how you’ll proceed into the legal process of filing for divorce. You may wish to handle the divorce process on your own or receive assistance from a mediator or family law attorney.

You’ll also decide whether to file your petition as fault-based divorce, meaning one party did something egregious that precipitated the marriage’s ruin, or a no-fault divorce, in which the parties have mutually agreed to end their marriage through “irreconcilable differences.”

Filing a petition for divorce is a serious action that has legal and personal consequences, so take time to prepare for those changes, as well. You may consider new living arrangements, schedules or new modes of communication. It helps to have plans in place or, at minimum, conducting some forethought.

Step 2 in the Illinois divorce process: Filing and negotiation

If you’re seeking to divorce your spouse in the state of Illinois, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the circuit court where you obtained your marriage license. You must also file any other forms as required by the particular court, including forms that relate to custody and support, along with the Domestic Relations Cover Sheet (in Cook County).

The person filing for divorce must also provide notification of their legal filing to their spouse, which they can do through certified mail, via a private service or with assistance from the county sheriff’s office.

During this time, you will also enter into negotiations to separate financial and personal assets; determine possible spousal support; and coordinate on child custody, visitation, and support. Finding mutual agreement on these issues can be a lengthy process, though the duration is typically determined by the parties themselves and their attitude about working in cooperation toward finalization.

Step 3 in the Illinois divorce process: Settlement, moving forward

After making an agreement on the terms of separation, the divorcing parties appear before a family court judge and ask for their contract to be affirmed and their divorce granted. The judge can ask questions, call witnesses, and then suggest or order changes to the divorce agreement.

Once all elements of the agreement are settled and approved by the court, the petition of dissolution is granted by the court. However, that’s not where the Illinois divorce process ends.

The parties are now obligated to the terms of the divorce agreement and must take actions to fulfill them. This involves voluntarily providing the funds, assets, time and access mandated by the legally binding agreement.

It may also require the parties to revisit issues as necessary if the agreement requires updating due to changes in employment or living situations.

Get help throughout all the steps of the Illinois divorce process from Sterk Family Law. We’ll help you break down the steps and make a plan for the future. Contact our experienced family law attorneys for an initial consultation.


This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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