Starting A Case
FAMILY/DIVORCE LAW IS STATE LAW. THIS SITE GIVES YOU SOME GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN FAMILY/DIVORCE CASES IN ILLINOIS. THE INFORMATION HERE IS NOT COMPLETE AND THE LAW IN STATES OTHER THAN ILLINOIS IS DIFFERENT. YOU MAY NEED LEGAL ADVICE.
A parentage or divorce case is started by filing a Petition (a paper which describes the issues and seeks relief) with the Circuit Clerk of the County in which you reside. You must pay a filing fee to the Clerk.
A divorce petition states the grounds for divorce and the relief sought. Grounds for divorce include irreconcilable differences (no-fault), mental cruelty, physical cruelty, adultery, drug and/or alcohol addiction, as well as several others. Many people wish to get divorced on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. However, you must be separated for a period of two years, or six months (if both parties agree), to get a divorce on those grounds.
The relief sought in a divorce case generally include dividing property, dividing debts, establishing child custody, visitation, child support, maintenance (alimony), and determining who pays attorney’s fees among other things.
A parentage case is started by filing a Petition to Establish Parentage. It asks that a person be named the father or mother of a child. It also asks that the issues of child custody, support and visitation be resolved if paternity is established.
After a case is filed, it is then served upon the other party. The party who is served with summons will have 30 days in which to reply in a divorce case. In a parentage case, that party generally must appear in Court on a specific date and admit or deny that he or she is the parent of the child in question. Genetic tests can be ordered upon a denial. The party who requests the tests may be ordered to pay for them.
After a finding is entered for paternity, or a person answers in a divorce case, the case is then docketed for the other issues in the case.