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Illinois divorce details

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Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Illinois

While a contested divorce refers to a “traditional” divorce proceeding with the presence of attorneys, time-consuming trials, and numerous court hearings, an uncontested divorce is much more simple and can help you save a lot of time and money.

  • Contested divorce.

You should contest your case if you have a complicated relationship where you and your spouse are unable to negotiate and come to terms in regards to the issues of divorce.

  • Uncontested divorce.

You can file for an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse’s intention to terminate the marriage is mutual (or at the very least, your spouse is indifferent) and are able to find common grounds when it comes to the issues of divorce.

Uncontested vs Contested Divorce
Uncontested divorce in Illinois

Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

An uncontested divorce is when the spouses are able to reach an agreement regarding all the important aspects of the divorce terms. They may still hire the help of an attorney or attend mediation sessions if they wish to do so. However, they are not required to attend many court hearings nor are there any judicial interviews of the children. Furthermore, the process is quite fast.

You can file for a so-called simplified divorce and finalize it in one day if you meet certain requirements: you have no children and real estate; both you and your spouse waive the spousal support; the value of your marital property is less than $10,000, and your common income is less than $35,000. Also, as in any uncontested case, you must make a written agreement to divide property.

Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

Illinois is a mixed-state as it recognizes both Fault and No-Fault grounds for divorce.

Fault grounds refer to a contested divorce. Although they are much less popular nowadays, they can still be reasonable and relevant in some situations. But you should be able to prove your spouse’s misconduct before the court.

There are several grounds for a fault divorce:

  • impotence;
  • Bigamy;
  • Adultery;
  • Abandonment for a period of at least a year;
  • Alcohol abuse or drug addiction for 2 years;
  • Attempting to take the other spouse’s life;
  • Extreme physical or mental cruelty;
  • Felony conviction;
  • Infecting the other spouse with a sexually transmitted disease.

The grounds for a no-fault divorce are:

  • Living separate & and apart for 2 years;
  • Irreconcilable differences that have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (conflict of interest, mutual desire to terminate the marriage).


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Illinois Residency Requirements to file for the divorce

Illinois Residency Requirements to File for Divorce

To get a divorce in Illinois, one or both spouses must be residents of the state for 90 days or more before filing the Petition for divorce.

Illinois law defines a “residence” as a person’s “domicile.” This means that the place where you live currently is your home, and you have no plans to leave it in the near future. If someone resides in two states at the same time (or, for example regularly travels for work), the state where they spend more than 50% of their time is considered as their main residence.

How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Illinois?

In Illinois, the filing procedure may vary by county and your particular conditions, but every uncontested case includes the following steps:

  1. File a Petition for dissolution of marriage in the County Court. Complete and sign the forms with the court clerk.
  2. Serve your spouse with the copies of the Petition and Summons.
  3. Wait for their response. If your spouse agrees to the divorce, then you should jointly write your Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Agreement (if there is a need). Note that you can make these agreements in advance, even before filing a petition, as it will save time.
  4. Receive a hearing date and attend the final hearing. The final hearing of uncontested divorce is just a formality; it is quite short and rather stress-free.

If you decide to file for a joint simplified divorce, you meet all the mandatory requirements and go to court and complete the forms together. In addition to a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage and a Property Settlement Agreement, you also need to fill out and sign an Affidavit in Support of Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. The court hearing may be appointed the same day both of you must attend it.

How to file for an Uncontested Divorce?
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Illinois

Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Illinois

A no-fault uncontested divorce can be easily obtained without an attorney. You just have to make sure that you take the above mentioned steps carefully and responsibly.

It is not advised to to arrange a DIY divorce if you are unsure that you can cope with the Settlement Agreement or any children-related issues on your own. You should also confirm with your spouse and your desire to make a convenient and fair agreement is mutual.

If there are still some obstacles or misunderstandings that you need to resolve, you can always try attending a mediation or request advice from a qualified lawyer.

How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?

The initial cost of a divorce case is equal to the court filing fee, which typically ranges from $150 to $300. Additional expenses may include: sheriff service ($75), state-required FOCUS on Children online seminar ($25), mediation ($150 - $300 per hour), and cost to hire an attorney ($260 per hour). The total cost will vary depending on the services that your case requires.

How much does an Uncontested Divorce cost in Illinois

How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in Illinois?

The quickest way to terminate a marriage is to file for a Simplified dissolution. It can be obtained in just a few days. However, if fail to meet the requirements, it can take several weeks (if your spouse signs an entry of appearance) from the time you file the Petition.

Illinois Supreme Court insists that contested cases involving children shouldn’t take more than 18 months. But in general, a contested divorce often takes more than a year.

How to Serve Your Spouse in Illinois

“Serving” your spouse means notifying them of your intention to get a divorce by delivering them copies of the Petition and Summons. You are not allowed to deliver the documents face-to-face.

In Illinois, there are three ways to serve your spouse. You can do it through the help of a private process server or using a sheriff’s service. You can also request a service by publication as a last resort if you are unable to locate your spouse (this procedure is quite rare and can cost a few hundred dollars).

Most counties recognize the Sheriff's service as the most appropriate way to serve because you receive proof that your documents have been delivered, which you must file with the court.

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Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Illinois

Below is a basic list of the necessary forms to file for an uncontested divorce in Illinois. All the forms may not be required as it depends on your individual case.

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (with / without children).

The Petition begins the divorce process.

  • Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage.

Includes information regarding you and your spouse for statistical purposes of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

  • Summons.

Notifies your spouse that you are seeking a divorce.

  • Entry of Appearance.

This form must be filled out by your spouse to inform the court that they do not need to receive a Summons; so the case is uncontested.

  • Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce No Children / Divorce With Children).

Contains the judge’s decision regarding your divorce case. If divorce is granted, it also contains the terms of property division and determine whether spousal support will be paid.

  • Parenting Plan.

The form which is required if you have minor children. Contains information regarding both the parents and their children, and governs the terms of custody & visitation rights.


Online Divorce in Illinois

Online divorce refers to the process of using online services for help in preparing the documents. Our services customize the required documents to fit the needs of your individual case. You do not need to learn all the nuances of the state law as we will fully prepare all the documents for you. Using our services can help save you a lot of time and money.

Online Divorce in Illinois
Rules for child support in Illinois

Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Illinois

Child support is regular payments made from one divorced parent to the other who is mainly responsible for the parenting.

In Illinois, Child Support is determined under the new Illinois child support law (2017). It is calculated as a percentage of the combined spouses’ income. The calculated payment amount must be paid by the paying parent to the non-paying parent for child care expenses.

In deciding child custody, the court acts on the principle of ensuring the best interests of the child. This means that the court takes into consideration factors such as the parents’ and child’s wishes and the child’s relationship to the family members.

We can distinguish the type of custody depending on whether it is sole or joint and whether it is related to the physical presence of the parent or to some decision making power.

  • Sole custody.

This type of custody implies that the child has only one custodial parent who lives with the child and makes all the important decisions regarding the child’s life. Sole custody can be granted when the other parent’s participation in the upbringing process is defined as unwelcome, harmful, or even dangerous. So basically, the single parent has sole physical and legal custody of the child.

  • Joint custody.

Joint custody may be both physical or legal.

  • Physical custody. If parents live in the same city, they can share their parenting time. If parents fail to divide their parenting time evenly, one becomes the custodial parent and the other becomes a non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent spends time with the child using their visitation rights.
  • Legal custody. When legal custody is joint, it means that both parents have equal rights to make important decisions regarding the child’s life. In such a case, the custodial parent should consult with the non-custodial parent when making any significant decisions regarding the child.

Rules for Spousal Support in Illinois

Spousal support, or Alimony, is payment that may be awarded from one spouse to the other without considering any of their fault-grounds for divorce. Alimony is awarded by the court based on several factors: both spouses’ income, length of marriage, physical condition of each spouse, and their individual ability to support themselves.

Spousal support may be temporary, long-term, or even permanent depending on your circumstances. Therefore, the amount and duration of alimony can be revised if your circumstances change.

Starting 2019, some changes in Illinois in regards to rules for spousal support can be expected. If the spouse who pays alimony deducts the payments from their tax returns, starting January 2019, they will be required to pay tax on these payments.

Rules for spousal support in Illinois
Division of property in Illinois

Division of Property in Illinois

In Illinois, common marital property must be divided fairly based on the judge’s conclusion while separate property is not subject to division at all.

So in order to know how your property will be divided during a divorce, you must first distinguish the separate and marital property.

Separate property include:

  • All you had prior to the marriage;
  • All that you acquired in exchange for property that you had prior to the marriage;
  • Your personal gifts or inheritances;
  • Those excluded from the marital estate by the valid agreement with your spouse;
  • The increase in value of any separate property during the marriage.

Marital property include almost all the property acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name the property is held under. This also applies to common property such as: joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety, or community property.

The court does not take into account the fault that caused the divorce when making a decision regarding property division. Among the factors that affect how exactly the property will be divided are: the contribution of each party to the increase or decrease in the value of the property, including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker; length of the marriage; child-related arrangements and any agreements made between the spouses; the income, health, and employability of each spouse; along with several others.

Division of Debt in Illinois

In Illinois, debts are considered to be a part of marital property under the same conditions as property and assets are.

As a result, separate debts are maintained by the original “owners” just like separate property. The result of an equitable division of debt can often be less favorable for one of the spouses. Furthermore, it may be rather difficult to determine who is responsible for credit cards and consumer purchase debts.

In some cases, the judge may even order the spouses to liquidate assets in order to sever financial ties.

Divorce Mediation in Illinois

During a divorce mediation, the spouses are guided by a qualified mediator who helps them negotiate and come to terms regarding the issues of divorce. The mediator will also help them create the Settlement Agreement, which will be presented to the court.

Illinois courts encourage spouses to attend mediation sessions, as it can really help to simplify the whole divorce process. Mediation facilitates the settlement of divorce terms and, at the same time, acts as a form of therapy. Mediation is a private process, and the spouses are not allowed to cite anything discussed during the sessions at the trial.

Divorce Mediation in Illinois

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How to divorce a missing spouse in Illinois

How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Illinois

Illinois’ "no-fault grounds" imply that you don’t need to remain married if you wish not do, and you can get a divorce even without the participation of your spouse if no other options are available.

If you are unable to locate your spouse, you can serve them through “Service by Publication”. This is the last opportunity to notify your spouse of the divorce terms where you will publish your intent to divorce in the local newspaper.

In order to be granted a Divorce by Publication, you must first prove to the court that you tried your best at attempting to locate your missing spouse. You must complete and submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court. Only after a certain number of publications and your spouse still fails to be located, the divorce will be granted under your terms.

Default Divorce in Illinois

Divorce by publication is an example of a default divorce because your case moves forward and is finalized even without your spouse’s participation. If your spouse fails to respond to the petition within 30 days, you may file for a default divorce.

You must complete the following forms to file for a default divorce: the certificate of dissolution, motion for default, and notice of hearing. You must then pay the court fees and wait for the court to appoint a date for your default divorce. The final copies of the court-stamped documents must be sent to your spouse (or at least, their last known address).

The Default Divorce in Illinois
Annulment of the marriage in Illinois

Annulment of the Marriage in Illinois

Although Illinois doesn’t provide a court action for “an annulment”, in rare cases, a marriage can be declared as invalid and be annulled as if it never existed. Illinois defines this action as a “judgement of invalidity”, ,and is almost the same as a regular civil annulment. There are several grounds for a judgement of invalidity:

  • Bigamy;
  • Consent to marriage was obtained by force, fraud, or duress;
  • Mental incapacity or drug/alcohol influence at the time the marriage was registered;
  • Impotence, that was hidden before the marriage;
  • Underage marriage without parents’ consent (under 18 years of age).

Legal Separation in Illinois

Legal separation refers to when spouses live separate and apart, but for some reasons, are not ready for divorce. They are legally considered to still be married and thus, are not allowed to remarry until they get an official divorce. Under legal separation, responsibilities regarding child support and custody are allocated according to the court decision. Although marital property is not automatically divided, this may be requested to the court.

Legal Separation in Illinois
The Same-Sex Divorce in Illinois

Same-Sex Divorce in Illinois

Same-sex marriage and divorce have been legal in Illinois since 2014.

Generally, the divorce process for same-sex couples follow the same rules as heterosexual couples. However, same-gender divorces have their specificity. For example, many same-sex couples were not allowed to marry until later in their relationship when same-sex marriage was recognized. As a result, they have a lot of separate property (acquired before marriage), but not many marital property. As a result, the issues of property division and spousal support can be complicated in such cases.

Children-related divorce terms also had their nuances until 2016, but the new Illinois Parentage Act finally recognized same-sex parents. This definition of a “parent’ is so important, as you can not be a custodian if you are not legally recognized as a parent.

Military Divorce in Illinois

A military divorce in Illinois is pretty much the same as a civil divorce aside from a few nuances. First, residency requirements state that not only one spouse must reside in Illinois for 90 days, but also that the military spouse is stationed there for the same period.

Furthermore, spouses in the military are protected from a default divorce according to state and federal laws. The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) allows the court to postpone a divorce proceeding for the entire duration of active service and for another 60 days after it ends. According to the law, anyone has the right to respond to the court action.

How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Illinois

In Illinois, there are some fault grounds that can be related to the spouse’s incarceration - from abuse and physical and mental cruelty to a felony conviction.

However, if you want to get a divorce based on no-fault grounds, the rules for filing a Petition and serving your spouse is the same as in any other divorce case.

The filing spouse must complete a Petition for divorce and submit it to the court clerk. The copy of the Petition must then be delivered to your spouse in jail. The authorities of the jail deliver the documents to the spouse on the petitioner’s behalf. The incarcerated spouse has 30 days to respond and the final hearing can be legally held without their participation.

And if you want to contest you divorce case, the incarcerated spouse must be presented by an attorney. It is prohibited for him/her to attend the divorce hearing.

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Illinois Divorce Filing Fee

Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.

Divorce filing fee

Can a Filing fee Be Waived?

The filing fee can be waived in Illinois. If you are financially unable to afford the fee, you must complete and file the “Fee Waiver” form where you will provide information regarding your finances. If your request is approved, the fee will be waived.

How We Can Help

We know the divorce process can be difficult and stressful. That is why our services are aimed at helping you get through the process as quickly and easy and possible. We provide you guidance in uncontested divorce cases in Illinois. After a short online interview, we will prepare your packet of documents that are customized for your individual case.

Our qualified specialists are always in touch to answer the questions you may have.

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