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The Dreaded Divorce Papers: The Process for Serving Your Spouse in Illinois

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Divorce

divorce papers, serving divorce paperwork, Illinois divorce lawyer, divorce attorney,For those residing in Illinois, divorce papers can either be served in person by a spouse, or through a process server. It is best to retain an experienced Illinois divorce attorney to assist you in determining the best option for your situation.  Your attorney will request the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Precipice for Summons with the circuit court to begin the process.  

Illinois state law, Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5),  requires that any defendant of a lawsuit, which includes your spouse if you are the filing party, must be informed of any pending legal action. You must "serve" your spouse with a notice of divorce or service of process.

Illinois has requirements for this process and all must be satisfied before you can move forward with your divorce action. The following is a brief description of state requirements for informing your spouse of the divorce:

Designated Server

Your attorney may secure the services of a county sheriff to serve divorce papers, or a licensed private investigator, with the exception of Cook county. Another allowable option is using any Illinois citizen over the age of 18 who is court appointed.

The designated server may also require process protocol by leaving the summons at the home of the defendant either with a family member or person residing at the residence. The recipient must be at least 13 years old, and must be informed of the contents of the summons. If this option is used, the server must also send a copy of the summons in a sealed, postage paid envelope.


If your spouse is aware of your attentions, he or she may make "appearance" or physically retrieve the summons from a designated location.

Service via Certified Mail

Your attorney may suggest that the summons be issued to your spouse via trackable certified mail requiring a writ of receipt.

Service by Publication

The use of service by publication is often used when the defendant spouse can not be located. The petitioner who has made a good faith effort to locate the missing spouse can opt to place an advertisement in the local newspaper where the divorce action has been filed. To use service of publication, approval of the court is granted only after a diligent search has been made for the missing spouse.

Following the Issuance of Summons

Once the requirements of serving your spouse have been satisfied, he or she legally has a 30 day window to formally file a written Response to Petition. During this time, it is expected that your spouse will retain counsel.

If your spouse declines to file a formal Response, your attorney may file a default judgment with the court. By doing so, your attorney is providing notice to the court that your spouse has declined to acknowledge the summons. If this is the case, the judge will move equitably divide the marital property and grant a divorce.

If your spouse files a proper response, this will be the time your attorney addresses all marital circumstances such as maintenance and child support and the continuation of shared marital expenses while the divorce is in pending status.

Also at this time, your attorney will asses the overall situation and advise you of the length of time required to reach a fair settlement. The estimation is based on all contributing factors of your marital issues and family law concerns.

Filing and facing the divorce process can be emotionally and legally challenging. It all depends on your personal marital situation. That is why it is essential to contact an experienced divorce attorney in your area who will review your legal concerns but one who will also take into consideration the emotional difficulties you may also be facing. At A. Traub & Associates, we are capable of both. We offer a comprehensive approach to ensure your best interests are protected but we also take the time to understand the emotional complexities of moving forward with a divorce. Contact us today for information.
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