Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

Learn how you can get a quick and easy uncontested divorce in Illinois.

By , Attorney | Updated by E.A. Gjelten, Legal Editor

There's no doubt that divorce is a difficult experience for almost everyone. In addition to mourning the breakup of your family, you also have to navigate a complicated legal process. However, if you and your spouse can cooperate and work together to get an uncontested divorce, the process will be easier, quicker—and cheaper.

Also, if you're filing for an uncontested divorce in Illinois, you have the option of using an online divorce service, which will provide you with the necessary completed forms and basically walk you through the process.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce in Illinois?

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses have agreed on all the key issues involved in ending their marriage, including:

If you're having trouble reaching a complete marital settlement agreement won your own, divorce mediation could help you work through the obstacles.

If that doesn't work, you'll at least start out with a contested divorce. Although most divorcing couples eventually settle their cases before they go to trial (usually with the help of their lawyers, a mediator, or both), the process can still take a long time and be expensive.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Illinois?

There is no divorce waiting period for uncontested divorces in Illinois. However, you still must meet the residency requirement in order to get a divorce in the state. You or your spouse must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days just before you file your divorce papers. (750 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/401(a) (2022).)

If you want a fast divorce in Illinois, you'll need to meet the residency requirements and find a way to settle things with your spouse. Contested divorces can take from several months to more than a year, depending on the number of issues in your case and whether you need to go to trial to have a judge resolve those issues for you.

Joint Simplified Dissolution

Illinois has a special, streamlined type of uncontested divorce that can move things along even faster—a "joint simplified dissolution." But you must meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • you and your spouse meet the residency requirements and will fill out all the forms together
  • you've been married to your spouse for no more than eight years
  • you don't have any children with your spouse, and none are expected
  • you've met the legal requirements for the no-fault divorce "ground" in Illinois based on "irreconcilable differences"
  • you don't own any real property or retirement benefits (other than IRAs with a combined value of less than $10,000)
  • the total value of all of your marital property is less than $50,000
  • neither spouse earns more than $30,000 a year, and your combined annual gross income is less than $60,000
  • you and your spouse have exchanged full information on your assets and liabilities, as well as tax returns covering the entire period of your marriage
  • you and your spouse agree to permanently waive any right to receive spousal maintenance, and
  • you both have signed a written agreement dividing all of your personal property worth more than $100, allocating your debts, and allocating ownership of and responsibility for any pets that you own.

(750 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/401(a), 5/452 (2022).)

The Uncontested Divorce Process in Illinois

If you're handling your case without an attorney, you'll be responsible for knowing where and what to file in your divorce. You'll need to file your case in the proper venue—the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse resides. You can find addresses and phone numbers for circuit court clerks in Illinois by county, or you can use this interactive map to find your local court and its website.

Filing Your Divorce Paperwork

Once you're ready to start the divorce process, you can find Illinois uncontested divorce forms online, through Illinois Legal Aid, or through your local courthouse. The circuit courts in many counties have their own forms, so you should check with the court clerk (or the website) in the county where you'll be filing your paperwork. (The forms available on the Cook County Court website are a good example of what you can expect to find.) You should also ask about requirements for filing your divorce papers electronically.

Generally, you'll have to pay a court fee to file your divorce papers. The amount varies from county to county. If you can't afford to pay the filing me, you can request a waiver. You'll have to submit a waiver application and provide detailed information about your income, debts, and belongings. If your qualify, you won't have to pay the courts fees in your case.

After you file your divorce papers, the clerk will give you a form from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, which you and your spouse will have to complete and sign.

Serving the Divorce Papers

As a rule, you need to give your spouse notice that you've filed for a dissolution by serving your spouse with the divorce papers (usually by having a sheriff hand-deliver the documents). However, you can skip this step if your spouse agrees to waive formal service and signs an Entry of Appearance form.

Couples who file for a joint simplified dissolution also don't have to serve the paperwork, since they're filing together.

Finishing Up Your Divorce

You will have to attend a hearing (often called a "prove up" in Illinois) to get your final divorce. Depending on the local court procedures, you spouse might have to attend as well. Be sure to ask the court clerk about additional notices you may need to send if your spouse doesn't have to participate and isn't planning on coming.

At the hearing, a judge will ask you questions about your case and your settlement agreement. The hearing shouldn't take long. As long all your paperwork is in order, and your settlement isn't unfairly one-sided, the judge will sign the final dissolution judgment. At that point, your divorce will be final.

Do You Need an Attorney for Uncontested Divorce?

You don't need to hire a lawyer to get an uncontested divorce in Illinois, and you can represent yourself during the process. You can try to handle everything yourself or use an online service to help with all the forms. (Some of these services will also do the actual filing for you, for an extra fee.)

Depending on your situation, however, you may find that you need representation, or at least expert advice, from an experienced family lawyer—for instance, when you and your spouse have complicated assets to divide (like retirement accounts). If you choose to work with one, an attorney can give you advice on your proposed settlement and make sure you haven't missed anything important or given up any of your rights.

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