Filing for Divorce In Illinois


The law takes marriage very seriously and does not always make it easy for two people to file for divorce. Nevertheless, you and your spouse can take several steps to expedite the process and put into place a post-divorce plan that will work for all parties involved. At Downs Law Offices, our Chicago attorneys know the issues you need to address during divorce negotiations and can help you get through divorce as quickly as possible by negotiating a clear and workable marriage settlement agreement. We are no strangers to the courtroom, however, and you can count on us to staunchly advocate for you throughout the litigation process if necessary for a fair settlement.


In any type of divorce, the first official step is to file a petition stating grounds for divorce and asking the court for relief. At least one of the spouses must have resided in the state for the preceding 90 days. If, however, the parties can settle their issues through a marriage settlement agreement, it eliminates the need for a trial and can greatly simplify the process. A marriage settlement agreement should address a number of necessary issues:

  • Distribution of marital property
  • Isolation of individual property
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Child custody

If the spouses are able to agree, they may appear before the court at what is called a "prove-up" hearing to present their proposed agreement for review and approval. The court then reviews the agreement and, if approved, enters a final decree, thereby concluding the formal divorce process.

A joint simplified divorce is an even more expedited process available under Illinois law. However, it is limited to marriages of less than eight years duration where there are no minor children or real estate holdings and where the spouses' combined assets are $10,000 or less and combined incomes are $35,000 or less.


If the parties cannot reach an agreement that the court is willing to approve, a trial may become necessary. Note that even a no-fault divorce may become contested if the parties cannot agree on issues such as property division and child custody. Thus, a trial may become necessary even when both parties want a divorce, although they may continue to negotiate as trial preparations occur. The judge may also attempt to broker a settlement during the pretrial conference held with both parties and each family attorney once discovery is closed.

If there is still no agreement, a non-jury trial takes place, in which each spouse presents evidence aimed at convincing the judge to decide the issues in his or her favor. Once the trial has taken place - which can take anywhere from one day to over a week - the judge renders a decision that is binding upon both parties absent an appeal.

Our Chicago attorneys understand what your divorce means to you. At Downs Law Offices, you are always more than a case number. You can count on our lawyers and support staff to be responsive to your needs, sensitive to your emotions and committed to helping you get the best result for you and your children.

Guidance to help you move on with your life

If you are getting ready to go through a divorce, there is no need to do it alone. Call Downs Law Offices today at 312-781-1963 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Chicago 's Loop, with easy access to public transportation and available parking.