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How do you file for and serve a divorce petition in Illinois?

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For many Illinoisans, just making the decision to get divorced is tough. Because of that, little things can cause them to put off taking action. One small roadblock is figuring how and where to file and serve a divorce petition.

A divorce petition is a legal document filed in court by a spouse seeking divorce. The petition announces the filer's intent to get divorced and starts the divorce process. After the divorce-seeking spouse files the petition, they must also serve the other spouse. In other words, they need to give a copy to the other spouse.

What does the petition need to include? A petition should state the spouses' names and addresses; time and place of the marriage; the names of any children the couple has; acknowledgment that the filer has lived in the state long enough to file for divorce; the grounds for divorce; and a statement that the filer wants to settle the issues likely to arise during the divorce such as child custody and property division.

Where does the petition need to be filed? Divorce is a state-level issue, so Illinoisans should file their petition at their local circuit or superior court. Don't try to file in federal court.

How does a filer serve the petition? After filing the petition with the right court, the filer must provide a copy of the petition to the other spouse. The easiest way to do this is to give the petition to the spouse in person. If that is risky, the law also allows other people to serve a petition on behalf of the filer.

Source: Findlaw, "Filing and Serving the Divorce/Dissolution Petition," Accessed Aug. 18, 2014

Source: Findlaw, "Filing and Serving the Divorce/Dissolution Petition," Accessed Aug. 18, 2014

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