Divorce Decrees in Illinois

At the end of your divorce process, the judge will hand you a series of official documents. A divorce decree is one of them. 

Consider your divorce decree the final product of your divorce. As such, you’ll want to make sure all of the details are accurate. You can appeal your decree, but it’s easier to get everything right the first time – it will save you a lot of time and effort down the road. 

If you’ve misplaced your divorce decree, you can order a new one through the court that processed your case. Fees are minimal as long as you know core details like your split date. 

What is a divorce decree?

So, what exactly is a divorce decree?

At the end of your divorce, a judge issues a judgment of dissolution of marriage. Both parties get a copy, and the details outlined are final and can’t be changed without more forms and fees. 

A divorce decree is a court order that ends your marriage. (Note: A divorce certificate is a little different; it only proves that your divorce occurred.) A decree contains all of the details you’ve agreed to. 

A divorce decree includes a lot of information, including the items you resolved in your Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. Expect it to feature the following:

  • Your names
  • The date of your wedding
  • The date of your divorce
  • The names and ages of your children 
  • Parenting plans 
  • Child support payments 
  • Asset and debt distribution, including pension and retirement account balances
  • Spousal support 

If you don’t understand all of the plans you made during your divorce, or if you’re not sure what you’ve agreed to, a divorce decree would clear up confusion for you. Keep it on hand to make sure you’re keeping the promises you made in court. You’ll potentially reference it many times in the coming years.

Where can I get a copy of my Illinois divorce decree?

It’s best to keep your Illinois divorce decree in a safe place. However, accidents can (and do) happen. If you’ve lost your divorce decree, you can order a new one with a few steps. 

First, visit the courthouse where the divorce was granted. If you can’t remember who processed your case, use this tool to find the right place to go. 

Courts typically need your case number, the year in which the case was filed, and both of your names. This data can help clerks find your critical divorce documents. If you don’t have some or all of this data, you may have to pay investigation fees so officials can find the right paperwork. 

Even if you do have the necessary information, you will face fees for copying the documents. And if you want an official (certified) record, you’ll pay more. 

How long does it take to get a divorce decree in Illinois? 

In some states, people are required to endure a waiting period between filing divorce paperwork and getting a decree. Illinois is a little different. 

In Illinois, one person must live in the state for 90 days in order to get divorced there. In most cases, you must also live apart for at least six months first.

There’s no waiting period to get a copy of your divorce decree. If you choose, you can ask for one the day after your divorce.

How much does a divorce decree cost in Illinois?


To get your original divorce decree, you must pay the fees associated with getting divorced. 

An Illinois divorce begins with filing paperwork. Every county can charge different filing fees for this paperwork. In the Northern District of Illinois, for example, civil filing fees are $402. Your county may charge more or less than this amount. 

Read: How to Serve Divorce Papers in Illinois

Illinois requires parties to share paperwork through a process called serving. Typically, you must hire someone to do this for you, and costs can vary. For example, the Cook County Sheriff’s office charges $60 per delivery. A professional process server may ask for more, depending on the specifics required to serve your ex. 

As your divorce progresses, you may face expenses from attorneys, appraisers, and expert witnesses. If you share children, your costs may be even higher. 

Most Illinois divorces are settled by agreements, as going to trial can be so expensive. If you negotiate and arrive at an agreement together, you could limit your costs and pay nothing more than filing fees and server charges. Oftentimes, working together with the help of a mediator can greatly cut your overall costs and reduce stress as well.

Read: What to Ask for in Divorce Mediation


Most courts charge duplication fees. In Clark County, for example, courts charge $2 for the first page, and 50 cents for each additional page up to 25 pages. If you’re interested in a certified version, you’ll pay $6. 

McLean County has the same copying fees, but charges $10 for certification. 

In short, the cost for a copy of your divorce decree may vary by county. Check with your local county clerk to find out the cost.

When will I need a copy of my divorce decree? 

Your divorce decree can help you understand the divorce arrangements you made in court. Sometimes, the paperwork can help you complete important tasks. 

You may need copies of your divorce decree in the following situations:

  • You want to change your name. If you didn’t return to a maiden name during your divorce, a decree can help you prove your new identity when you apply for a name change. 
  • You’re getting remarried. Illinois doesn’t allow simultaneous marriages. When you apply for a new license, you may need to prove the old one is invalid. Your divorce decree can help you do that.
  • You’re applying for a loan. Mortgage companies, auto dealerships, and other lenders may need proof of your single status before handing over money. 
  • Your partner isn’t following orders. If you’re not getting the child support or spousal support payments you agreed to, a divorce decree can help you get the money in court. The decree will help to remove any ambiguity about what is expected of your ex.

Can you appeal a divorce decree in Illinois?

Illinois laws allow people to appeal divorce rulings. It’s almost always best to settle crucial details before you sign final documents with your ex, but if something slipped through, an appeal could help. 

You must file a notice of appeal with the clerk within 30 days of the issuance of your final divorce decree. These steps are required:

  1.  Fill out a Notice of Appeal form.
  2.  Give a copy of that form to your partner, and fill out an Additional Proof of Service form.
  3.  Submit both forms to the circuit court clerk, and pay a $50 filing fee. You may have other fees, especially if you need your case transcribed. The clerk can tell you more. 
  4. The clerk will file your documents.
  5. Your partner will file a response (if needed).
  6. The court will issue a decision. 

You can appeal that ruling, too, but know that winning your case is far from guaranteed. As mentioned, it’s far easier to solve tricky problems before a judge signs your final documents. Thoroughly review all documents before this final step takes place to avoid future problems that are tough to resolve. You can read about Hello Divorce’s professional marital settlement agreement offer here.

If you’d like to learn more about Hello Divorce services, from our online divorce plans to our hourly mediation sessions and legal advice sessions, we invite you to schedule a free 15-minute phone call.


750 ILCS 5: Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Illinois General Assembly. 
How to Get a Copy of a Divorce Decree or Certificate. 
Obtain a Copy of a Divorce Decree. McLean County, Illinois. 
Filing Costs in a Divorce. (May 2020). Illinois Legal Aid Online. 
Fees Schedule. United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. 
Serving Process (Summons). Cook County Sheriff’s Office. 
Your Guide to Getting a Divorce in Illinois. (2018). Illinois State Bar Association. 
How Can I Get a Copy of My Divorce Judgement/Divorce Decree. Clark County, Illinois. 
Guide for Appeals to the Illinois Appellate Court for Self-Represented Litigants. (August 2018). Illinois Supreme Court Commission in Access to Justice.
Senior Editor
Communication, Relationships, Divorce Insights
Melissa Schmitz is Senior Editor at Hello Divorce, and her greatest delight is to help make others’ lives easier – especially when they’re in the middle of a stressful life transition like divorce. After 15 years as a full-time school music teacher, she traded in her piano for a laptop and has been happily writing and editing content for the last decade. She earned her Bachelor of Psychology degree from Alma College and her teaching certificate from Michigan State University. She still plays and sings for fun at farmer’s markets, retirement homes, and the occasional bar with her local Michigan band.