How to Divorce in Illinois without Lawyers

Divorce is a difficult process, but it doesn’t always have to involve lawyers. In Illinois, couples have the option to pursue an uncontested divorce – a great way to end a marriage without lawyers.

Uncontested divorce requires no lawyers in Illinois

An uncontested divorce simply means that both parties have agreed on all the critical issues involved in their divorce, such as child custody, marital property division, and spousal support. Uncontested divorces can be less stressful and time-consuming than contested divorces.

To be eligible for an uncontested Illinois divorce, you and your spouse must agree on all major issues pertaining to your marital settlement agreement. 

Suggested: Download: What to Include in Your Settlement Agreement

If you and your spouse don’t agree on everything, mediation may be an excellent solution. A mediator is a neutral third party who can help the two of you reach an agreement on any outstanding issues.

Notably, Illinois divorce law imposes a minimum six-month separation period before a divorce can be finalized. This waiting period requirement applies whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Therefore, there will be a minimum of six months from the day your divorce petition is filed to the day your divorce can be finalized in Illinois.

Basic steps of uncontested divorce in Illinois

Step 1: Filing and serving

The first step in an uncontested divorce is to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Illinois court. You must meet all the eligibility requirements to file. You must then serve your spouse with divorce papers and wait at least 30 days for them to respond.

Step 2: Negotiation with spouse

Once you receive a response from your spouse, you and your spouse can start negotiating. You'll need to discuss and agree upon how to divide property, spousal maintenance, child support, parenting time, and any other critical issues involved in your case.

Read: How to Slay Your Divorce Negotiations Like a Pro

Step 3: Finalizing the uncontested divorce

Once you and your spouse have agreed upon all the critical issues, you’ll need to present the court with your marital settlement agreement. Typically, there will then be a final hearing where the court reviews your agreement and grants the divorce.

Joint simplified divorce in Illinois

A Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is a specific type of uncontested divorce permitted by Illinois law. It is an option for Illinois couples who have been married for eight years or less, who have no children, and who have minimal property or assets. Couples must also make less than $35,000 annually as a couple. It is a simpler and faster divorce process than a regular uncontested divorce.

The Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is the fastest option for an uncontested divorce in Illinois because the process is streamlined. The couple only needs to fill out a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Petition and an Agreement. This is presented to a judge who may ask a few questions, but it won’t require much of your time, and it won’t necessitate an attorney.


FAQ about divorce in Illinois

Do I have to live in Illinois before filing for divorce?

It's important to note that at least one member of a couple looking to divorce in Illinois must have resided in the state for at least 90 days before filing. This is the Illinois state residency requirement for divorce.

How much does it cost to get divorced in Illinois?

It depends on where you live. Filing fees usually range between $300 and $500. If this sounds steep, you may be able to apply for a filing fee waiver.

You'll also incur fees to serve your spouse and if you use a lawyer, which can increase your costs to tens of thousands of dollars. However, you can avoid many of these additional costs by engaging in an uncontested divorce.

Do I have to take a parenting class?

If you have children, the state requires you to complete a class before granting the divorce. This is the protocol for all divorcing parents of minor children in the state. Some people find the class helpful; others do not. Regardless, it’s part of the mandatory process.

Note that the class will be at least four hours long, and you'll be required to pay a fee for it.

Are you considering getting divorced in Illinois? Many people in this situation want to know if they can get divorced without a lawyer. To learn more about divorce cases without lawyers, check out our webinar: Yes, You Can Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer.

Suggested: What Are Grounds for Divorce?