Call Us Today 847.251.2999
Your Family Law and Divorce Needs
  • Our Testimonials

    Learn what former happy clients have to say about working with us.

    Read our Reviews
  • Our Guarantees

    We have broken away from the old and stale way of practicing law.

    Our Promise to You
  • Download Our Forms

    View our helpful forms & questionnaires to assist with your case.

    Download Now
  • Request a Consultation

    Contact our firm today and find out how we can help.

    Get Started Now

The 11 Stages of Divorce in Chicago That You Must Know About

What is divorce?

Divorce is the process of officially ending your marriage. Divorce can only be achieved through the divorce courts .

When the court issues an Order for Dissolution of Marriage, you will no longer be married.

What is annulment?

Divorce differs from annulment. Annulment is the legal process of proving that a valid marriage never existed.

What are the requirements for getting a divorce?

Illinois divorce laws require that certain minimum requirements must be satisfied before an Illinois divorce court can enter an Order for Dissolution of Marriage .

The applicable requirements depend on which one of two (2) different routes are used to achieve an Illinois divorce.

The first route is through pleading “fault” on the part of your spouse in your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Illinois divorce statutes list 11 grounds for fault. ( Click here to review the applicable Illinois divorce statute.)

The second route is through pleading “irreconcilable differences” in your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you use the route of “irreconcilable differences,” one of two additional requirements must be satisfied you and your spouse must have lived separate and apart continuously for a 6-month period and both of you must have agreed to use this route, OR you and your spouse must have lived separate and apart continuously for a 2-year period.

What issues are addressed in an Illinois divorce action?

The following issues are addressed in an Illinois divorce action: (i) the official ending of the marriage, (ii) property division , (iii) spousal maintenance – formerly known as "alimony" , (iv) child custody , and (v) child support

What are the steps involved in Illinois divorce proceedings?

Following are the usual steps, which can vary depending on the specific circumstances of your Illinois divorce case.


STEP 1: Determine whether divorce is the best option for you. Consider all of your alternatives. Talk to your spouse, friends, counselor or therapist, family members, religious or spiritual advisor, attorney, mentor, etc. Divorce is a drastic measure. We believe it should be avoided if reasonably possible. Before moving forward with your possible divorce, take some time to consider what you and your spouse can do to try to save your marriage (counseling, etc.).

STEP 2: Meet with a lawyer who handles divorces in Cook County and Lake County, Illinois. Enter into a written engagement and fee agreement with your Illinois divorce attorney. Your Illinois divorce attorney should also give you a written Client’s Rights and Responsibilities . ( Click here to review a sample Engagement and Fee Agreement and the Client’s Rights and Responsibilities. )

STEP 3: Complete the fact-gathering questionnaire that your Chicago divorce attorney will provide you. ( Click here to obtain Sylvester Law Firm’s Fact-Gathering Questionnaire For Divorce . )

STEP 4: Your Illinois divorce lawyer creates a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. You read the Petition to make sure everything is correct. You then sign the Petition.

STEP 5: Your Chicago divorce attorney files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the appropriate Illinois divorce court, and pays the applicable filing fee. The divorce filing fee in Illinois is currently $329. The fee for filing an Appearance and Answer to the Petition is $188.

STEP 6: The court clerk will issue a Summons. The Sheriff will “serve” the Petition and Summons on your spouse. The Petition asks the Illinois divorce court to dissolve your marriage. The Summons requires your spouse to respond to the Petition via an Answer, and to appear in court on a certain day and time.

STEP 7: Your spouse will prepare and file an Answer to your Petition.

STEP 8: The initial divorce court hearing will take place. The initial divorce court hearing has the purpose of informing the Illinois divorce court judge about your divorce case. The Illinois divorce court judge may "enter" an order requiring you and your spouse and/or the attorneys to appear in the divorce court at a later date. The Illinois divorce judge may also order you and your spouse to go through mediation to attempt to resolve disputed issues. You will not have to attend the first divorce court hearing.

STEP 9: The process of “discovery” takes place. Discovery includes such things as depositions, requests for documents, interrogatories, etc. Discovery is essentially the fact-gathering stage.

STEP 10: The divorce lawyers investigate whether the issues of property division, spousal maintenance (alimony) , child custody and child support can be settled by you and your spouse without the need for a divorce trial.

STEP 11: If all issues can be settled without a divorce trial, you and your spouse will agree upon and sign a Marital Settlement Agreement. The Illinois divorce judge will review the Marital Settlement Agreement at a "prove-up" hearing. (You do need to be present at the prove-up hearing.) If the Illinois divorce judge approves the Marital Settlement Agreement, the divorce court judge will "enter" an Order and Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. If you and your spouse cannot settle all issues, even after mediation, the Illinois divorce judge will set the case for a divorce trial. Each side will seek to present evidence to support their case. The Illinois divorce court judge will then make a ruling based on the evidence presented during the divorce trial.

The process of divorce in Illinois can be very unpredictable. You should only work with a north suburban Chicago divorce lawyer who can skillfully navigate you through the Illinois divorce process and court system. The Wilmette, Glenview and Northbrook divorce attorney of Sylvester Law Firm has the experience necessary to make sure that you are protected at each stage of the Illinois divorce process.

You are welcome to call the north suburban Chicago divorce lawyer of Sylvester Law Firm at (847) 251 – 2999 to get answers to your important questions.

Sylvester Law Firm, PC - Chicago Attorney
1000 Skokie Blvd., Suite 320
Wilmette, IL 60091. View Map
Call Us Today 847.251.2999
© 2014 All Rights Reserved.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.