The General Illinois Divorce Process

divorce filing papers

The Divorce process itself can be quite daunting. For most clients, it’s a new experience and one likely lacks the general knowledge of such a process. Although the specifics of each case are unique, an understanding of the general process can provide some insight as to what to expect and how your case is progressing. The following framework will help guide you through the Divorce process. Please keep in mind, the outline below does not include specifics of the Child Custody portion of the negotiations or court proceeding.

Basic Steps of the Illinois Divorce Process

1. An attorney files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage on your behalf.

2. A process server serves the Petition to your spouse OR your spouse can waive service and voluntarily accept the Petition.

3. Your Spouse files an appearance and answers the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
At this time, your spouse may also file a Counter Petition for Dissolution of Marriage which you must then answer.

4. Each party completes their Financial Disclosure Statement to the other party.

5. Discovery, in addition to the Financial Disclosure Statement, is commenced.
Discovery includes such things as Interrogatories, Notice to Produce, Subpoenas to third parties, Depositions of parties and valuator reports which offer an option as to value.

6. Temporary Motions may be addressed by the Court. Examples of Temporary Motions include, motions to set support or to set temporary obligations to maintain the household during the pendency of the case.

7. A Pretrial Conference may be conducted by the Court. A Pretrial Conference generally addresses all matters in the case, and the Court will make recommendations that can be accepted or rejected by the parties. A Pretrial may also help limit the issues to be addressed at Trial.

8. Financial mediation may be ordered at which time a mediator will make recommendations
about the parties’ assets and debts.

9. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, then the case will go to Trial where a Judge rules on the issues in your case.

10. Upon final ruling, each party has the right to an Appeal where the issues in the case are then heard before a panel of three Judges.

While in the Illinois Divorce process, it is important to note these procedural specifics:

1. In general, the opposing party will have 21 or 28 days to answer a Motion you file with the Court. You may have time to reply thereafter.

2. Unless it is an emergency, the Court will not hear the merits of your Motion on the first appearance, but rather the Court will set the Motion for Hearing after the opposing party has time to answer.

3. The Hearing date may be far off based upon the Court’s schedule and the schedule of the attorneys.

4. Sometimes your matter is continued because the Court has an ongoing Hearing which has already commenced. The other case will take precedence, and it is out of the control of the Court or your attorney.

5. Divorce takes time. Although it is hard to be patient, both emotionally and procedurally, it is absolutely necessary to find patience with the process.

6. Finding fair resolution and settling your case is always the goal, but not all cases can be settled without the intervention of the Court. That is, in fact, the reason why we have Judges.

7. Proving your case in Court through evidence is different than “telling your story”. Be sure to talk to your attorney about admissible evidence.

8. Your demeanor in court is key. Let your attorney fight for you. (See our previous blog post dated July 30, 2014).

9. What you deem to be just or fair may be different than the standards imposed by the legal system. Please work with your attorney to understand the difference between the two issues.

10. “Having your day in Court” is not the way to resolve your case. You must discuss the pros and cons of going forward with a Hearing or Trial with your attorney.

As previously mentioned, the specific details differ from case to case. We are always available for free consultation and will certainly guide you through the Illinois divorce process. Please contact our office for further information.


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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