There are two kinds of divorces in Illinois. The usual is a formal dissolution. The shorter and easier way is called Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
If you are considering using the Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Procedure, it is important that you carefully review all the information contained here to see if you qualify for the simplified procedure, you may also want to discuss the options with a lawyer. The simplified divorce procedure can only be used if you meet all of the legal requirements set forth in sections 2(a) through 2(j) of the petition. (Form CCDR 19)
Some of the legal words used here and in the various forms referred to have special meanings. Here are a few of the more important ones:
- Dissolution of Marriage - This is the legal term in Illinois for divorce.
- Fair Market Value - An estimate of money you could get if you sold your property to a stranger, as, for example, through a want ad in a newspaper. It does not mean what you paid for it originally, and it does not mean how much it would cost you to replace it if you lost it.
- Irreconcilable Differences - This means that you are certain that your marriage is over and that you made a serious attempt to try to resolve your differences and save your marriage. You also must be separated for six months before you can get a Dissolution of Marriage.
- Maintenance of Spousal Support - We used to call spousal support or maintenance "alimony." It is the money that one spouse pays to the other because that spouse is unable to support himself or herself.
- Marital debts - This is money you owe to creditors for goods or services you bought during your marriage. It is important for you to know that your creditors are not bound by the agreement in your Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
- Marital Property - This is all property you obtained during your marriage, except for gifts to one spouse or inheritances to one spouse. For example, your wedding gifts are marital property. There are some kinds of marital property you might not realize you have. A pension that you have through your work during your marriage is marital property. You should ask your employer for a statement telling you how much your pension is worth.
- Total Annual Income - This refers to the combined annual income of husband and wife from all sources.
- Waiver - This means that you are giving up a legal right forever. If you waive your right to something like maintenance (alimony), you can never change your mind in the future and ask a court to award it to you.
General Information Concerning Dissolution of Marriages
A dissolution of marriage is a serious step. To make sure that you know all of your rights, think about the following:
- It is in your best interest to talk to a lawyer about dissolution of your marriage. A lawyer might give you important information about your rights. If you want, you can have a lawyer file a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage for you.
- The Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court can provide you with a list of legal assistance references in Cook County. However, clerks cannot give you advice or help you draft forms.
- This brochure is only meant to help you obtain a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage by yourself. It does not tell you about all your rights and responsibilities.
- If you get a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, you are giving up any future right to support from your former wife or husband.
- A Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) permanently settles all financial rights arising out of your marriage, including the right to property held in the name of your husband or wife, and the right to support from your husband or wife. A judgment entered in a dissolution proceeding is final. You will have no right to appeal. Such judgment may only be set aside on grounds of fraud, duress, accident, mistake, or other grounds at law or equity.
- You and your spouse remain married and cannot remarry until a judgment dissolving your marriage is signed by the judge.
Instructions for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
There is a packet of forms which must be completed to obtain a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage:
- Affidavit in Support of Joint Petition for Dissolution, Agreement in Support of Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution Filed and Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution forms can be found here, (form CCDR 19) [check the Court Form Download section for instructions on viewing these forms after downloading]
The forms have been drafted to be self-explanatory and are easy to complete. All forms must be completed before filing the case with the Clerk of the Court. In order to qualify for the Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Procedure, you must meet all the requirements set forth in sections 2(a) through 2(j) in the petition.
Prepare the form using ink. Make one original and two copies. All boxes must be filled in and the form signed by both husband and wife.
Attach to the petition and each copy a duplicate of your agreement concerning the division of your marital property and debts in excess of $100 in value. Prepare two copies. There is no standard form for this purpose, but the Office of the Clerk of the Court has a suggested form (CCDR 19) you may wish to use if you have no other form. All your property must be divided before the Judge will sign your Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. If you have a joint bank account, you should close it out and get two different bank accounts. With credit card accounts that you both have been using, you should close the accounts, destroy the cards, and apply for separate accounts. If both of your names are on a title to a car and you agree that one of you is going to own the car, you will need to take action to change the title. You should call or visit a Secretary of State / Department of Motor Vehicle office to find out how to do this.
If the wife wishes to resume her name before marriage, complete paragraph C in the petition.
This form is self-explanatory. Complete the heading and have both party's sign. Make two copies of the original.
In anticipation of the Court granting the Judgment of dissolution, this format must be completed in advance. Fill in the headings, the boxes and paragraph F if the wife intends to resume her maiden name or former name. Both parties must sign the Judgment indicating their approval. Make two copies of the original.
Filing the Forms
Bring all forms (original and the two copies) to the most convenient office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The main office is Room 802, Richard J. Daley Center, 50 West Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602. You may also file in any suburban district. Hours are 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. You are required to pay court costs to file a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. Bring cash or a money order made out to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Both parties must be present and prepared to present their case. Joint Simplified Dissolution of marriage are heard the same day they are filed.
If you do not have enough money to pay the costs, you can fill out an application asking the court to allow you to file your case without cost. You can find more information here. The Clerk of the Court will give you a form from the State of Illinois, Bureau of Vital Statistics, which both you and your spouse must complete and sign. Additional photocopies of all forms may be submitted to be stamped at the time of filing. The Clerk of the Court will randomly assign your case to judges hearing Petitions for Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. The Clerk will advise you of the name of the judge, location of courtroom, and the time of the hearing (which may be the same day or soon after).
Both parties must appear at the hearing. Tell the Judge's clerk in the courtroom that you are both present and wish to have your case heard. Be prepared to present photo identification. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will sign the original copy of the Judgment and the clerk will stamp the copies and give one to each of you.
If you need a certified copy of the Judgment, you can obtain one from the Clerk's Office in Room 802. There is a fee charged for each certified copy.