How Long Do You Have to Wait to Get a Divorce in Illinois?

While the decision of whether or not to divorce can be a difficult and emotional one, only one party needs to make the decision. Provided you have been a resident of Illinois for at least 90 days, the state will grant your request for a dissolution of marriage.

However, while being granted a divorce petition is a fairly quick process, finalizing the divorce can take time. Depending on whether your spouse is also seeking a divorce or instead wishes to contest the divorce, getting divorced in Illinois could take anywhere from months to years.

Initial Steps

The first thing to do in initiating a divorce is to file a petition for a dissolution of marriage to the circuit court. This begins the proceedings and can be done as long as you have been a resident of the state for at least 90 days. At this point, a judge will be assigned to your case, and the clerk will provide their name, your case number, and your summons.

The sheriff’s office will deliver your spouse’s summons, which can take up to a few weeks. They then have 30 days to respond to the divorce. If they contest the divorce, there will be a mandatory six-month waiting period before proceedings can continue. If they do not respond within 30 days, a hearing will be scheduled within four weeks. If they respond and do not contest the divorce, proceedings can begin immediately following the 30-day wait period.

If your spouse agrees to sign an Entry of Appearance Waiver and Consent form, which states they agree to the divorce, this will expedite the petition and summons process, waiving both the need for a summons and the 30-day wait period.

How long do you have to wait to get a divorce in Illinois?


The smoothest means of completing the necessary documentation and divorce formalities is to have an Illinois divorce or mediation attorney working with you on your case. The next part of the proceedings involves a formal investigation of all marital assets and property, followed by negotiations regarding settlement. If marriage includes children, this will also include discussions of parental responsibilities and child support.

By partnering with an attorney, you can ensure this part of the process moves forward as efficiently as possible. Your attorney can guide you through what documentation to procure, counsel you on negotiating terms that are fair and meet your goals, and ensure that all legal aspects are accounted for.

If you and your spouse agree on all terms, the divorce can be finalized in as little as a couple of months. If, however, there is disagreement, your attorney will be able to mediate those disputes and continue to move toward a favorable outcome for everyone involved.


If both spouses agree to a settlement during the negotiation stage, then the process will go to court for a hearing in which the judge will review the settlement. If there are no problems with the settlement the divorce will be decreed and the marriage will be officially dissolved. By partnering with a skilled attorney during the negotiation stage, you will have a stronger likelihood that the judge will agree to the settlement presented.

In contested divorces or proceedings that include a lot of disagreement, the final stages could continue to drag out even further. If a settlement cannot be reached during negotiations, for example, then it will be necessary for your divorce to go to court. It could take several months to assign a court date, and the judge will ultimately be the one to determine the settlement details. Disagreements over child custody and parent rights are typically the biggest issue between couples that slows down proceedings.


Q: How Long Does It Take to Finalize a Divorce in Illinois?

A: Generally, divorce takes between six and twelve months to finalize in Illinois. However, an uncontested divorce could take as little as two months if the couple is in agreement on the important issues, such as child support and parental responsibilities, if there are children in the marriage. After submitting your petition for divorce, your spouse will have 30 days to contest the divorce or not. If they do not respond, this could delay the process by another four weeks.

Q: What Are the Five Stages of Divorce?

A: Typical divorce proceedings in Illinois go through five stages:

  1. Petition. One party petitions for a dissolution of marriage from the other. This begins the process.
  2. Response. Once the petition is served, the respondent has 30 days to contest the divorce.
  3. Discovery. A formal investigation into marital property is conducted.
  4. Negotiation. Both parties negotiate with the help of a lawyer to reach a final settlement.
  5. Trial. In rare cases, couples will proceed to court if they cannot reach a settlement during negotiation.

Q: How Can I Speed Up My Divorce in Illinois?

A: To speed up your divorce in Illinois, it is highly recommended you hire an attorney to assist in your case. Lawyers prefer speedy proceedings, too, and will work hard to move yours along as quickly as possible. Since fighting prolongs divorce proceedings the most, having an attorney mediate the terms of the divorce will keep the process moving along swiftly. Additionally, it will help to ensure you provide the necessary information and documentation as soon as possible when requested.

Q: How Long Does a Divorce Take If One Party Doesn't Agree in Illinois?

A: Unfortunately, the timetable for finalizing a divorce is just as dependent on the other party’s cooperation. If one party doesn’t agree, they can delay the divorce significantly. Once a petition is delivered, your spouse could delay proceedings for up to two months. If they contest the divorce, there is a mandatory waiting period of six months before proceedings can continue. Ultimately, contested and contentious divorce can potentially take up to a few years to resolve.

While the proceedings for obtaining a divorce in Illinois are fairly straightforward, the process itself can vary widely depending on several factors, including preparation, negotiation effectiveness, and general guidance. By partnering with a qualified and experienced Illinois divorce attorney, like Sarah Vahey at Vahey Law & Mediation, LLC, you can help make the already draining and difficult process of dissolving a marriage as smooth as possible. Contact our office to begin the process today.


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