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How do I file for divorce in Illinois?

Section 411 of the Illinois Statutes, Chapter 40, spells out in plain language the process that must happen in order to commence divorce proceedings. While being informed is always wise, having someone who is experienced in this type of filing will be a big help. There are many details that need to be attended to.

First of all, one of the parties who want a divorce must go to the clerk of the court in his or her county, file a motion of summons and pay a fee. The petition is good for six months before it expires.

If a motion is filed without a summons attached, the petitioner must go to the clerk of the court not more than 30 days later and file the summons. Until that is filed, the court has the right to dismiss the suit entirely, thus making you start over.

At worse, the judge may also decide to let your spouse file instead of you, so it is a good idea to get your paperwork and fee filed early and completely.

Once the petition and summons have been filed and the fee paid, the person filing the petition must be sure to follow-up with his or her spouse within 48 hours. A copy of every document must be given or delivered to your spouse on time in order for everything to proceed as you want it to.

An action for a dissolution of marriage is considered properly filed once the paperwork is in the system and the fee is fully paid.

This is just the first step in obtaining a divorce in the state of Illinois. It will go so much more seamlessly with a legal professional who knows what to file, when to file and what the fee will be. Having this person by your side is invaluable at a time like this.

Source: Illinois Satutes,, "Chapter 40, paragraph 411" Sep. 15, 2014

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