How Long Does a Divorce Take in Illinois
Getting divorced is often a long and emotionally challenging process. While every divorce case is different, most divorcing spouses want the process to be over as quickly as possible. So, how long does a divorce take in Illinois?
Factors That Impact Divorce Timelines
There are several key factors that influence how quickly you can get divorced in Illinois:
Levels of Disagreement
How much you and your spouse disagree about important divorce-related issues significantly impacts your timeline. Disagreements about things like asset division, alimony, child support, and custody require more time negotiating and often court intervention. The more disagreements you have, the longer the divorce.
Types of Divorce Take in Illinois:
Illinois has two different divorce procedures – contested and uncontested:
- Contested Divorce: You and your spouse do not agree on all issues like division of assets or child custody. Contested divorces often require trials and take much longer to finalize.
- Uncontested Divorce: You and your spouse agree on how to handle all divorce-related issues. Uncontested divorces can be finalized more quickly since less litigation is required.
Use of Lawyers
Representation by legal counsel usually lengthens the process. Lawyers require more formal information exchanges and often undertake litigation strategies requiring significant court involvement. Self-represented individuals can sometimes complete divorces faster by cooperating directly with one another.
Heavy caseloads in family courts sometimes create case processing delays, postponing final judgments for months after procedural steps are complete. The busier the courts, the longer even amicable divorces can take.
Steps in the Divorce Process
While timeline specifics vary case-by-case, Illinois divorces generally go through the following stages:
Filing the Petition
The spouse initiating the divorce files a Petition (or Complaint) with the court asserting grounds and demanding the marriage be legally terminated.
Serving Your Spouse
The petitioning spouse formally serves the petition on the other spouse per state procedural guidelines (typically delivering papers via Sheriff). This marks the legal start of the divorce.
Response from Your Spouse
The responding spouse reviews the petition and files an official Response with the court accepting or contesting aspects of the petition. Required response timelines vary (typically 30-60 days).
Discovery & Settlement Negotiations
You and your spouse exchange information about income, expenses, assets, and debts relevant to negotiating divorce terms. You may undertake formal “discovery” procedures to evaluate assets or request specifics from one another. Much negotiation happens during this phase to settle on as many issues as possible before court intervention becomes necessary.
Trial (If Needed)
If you can’t agree on all issues, the court schedules a trial to hear arguments and evidence from both spouses before imposing binding decisions on unresolved matters.
After all matters are agreed upon or adjudicated, the court enters a final judgment legally ending the marriage. The judgement incorporates the court’s rulings on all outstanding issues.
How to Speed Up Your Divorce
You can help expedite an Illinois divorce by:
Cooperate with Your Spouse
Work constructively together outside of court to mutually agree on divorce terms whenever possible. This limits legal wrangling and court involvement. Communicate directly and compromise.
Use a Mediator
Engage an impartial mediator if needed to facilitate negotiations and drafting of separation agreements. They can foster constructive dialogue and swift dispute resolution.
Avoid Unnecessary Litigation
Contested court hearings should be a last resort. Anything either of you “win” typically comes at the expense of the other. The legal process prolongs resolution.
How Long Divorces Take on Average
Highly contentious Illinois divorces often take 1-3 years depending on a number of disputes and court schedules. Cases involving business valuations, retirement division, or child custody evaluations can sometimes exceed 3 years.
The legal process typically finishes in 3-6 months for amicable Illinois divorces with complete agreements negotiated upfront. Some exception cases (like those with complex property division) may approach 12 months.
Consulting an Attorney
To understand how long your specific divorce might take and strategize expediting options, consult with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney.
They know the courts and typical timeframes and can offer tailored case guidance. A lawyer can also negotiate efficiently on your behalf or litigate strongly when needed to progress your case. Though legal fees apply, a lawyer maximizes chances for a swift, fair divorce.
1.How can I get an emergency divorce in Illinois?
Illinois has no expedited “emergency divorce” process. All cases go through standard procedural steps. However, courts can schedule swift resolution of urgent issues like temporary asset restraints or domestic violence protections while the case proceeds.
2.What is the fastest way to get divorced in Illinois?
The fastest Illinois divorces are uncontested with complete spousal agreements negotiated prior to filing. Jointly filed paperwork and few required court appearances streamline uncontested divorces.
3.How much does an uncontested divorce cost in Illinois?
Average total fees for an Illinois uncontested, no-fault divorce without minor children or property are estimated at $2,500- $3,000 combined if both spouses retain lawyers. Self-represented litigants have significantly lower filing/service costs.
4.Can I file for divorce myself in Illinois?
Yes, you can file for an Illinois divorce without using a lawyer if your case is straightforward. However, self-representation in complex cases or when disagreements arise can prove very challenging for non-lawyers.
5.What happens if I can’t afford to get divorced in Illinois?
If you have very limited income, Illinois legal aid organizations provide free or low-cost legal assistance for qualifying individuals to secure divorces. The state also has simplified fee waivers and pro se divorce forms.
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