What Happens in Divorce Court in Illinois?

Updated on March 6, 2023
Updated: March 6, 2023

Generally, divorce is a difficult and emotionally draining experience for all involved. Not only does it signify the end of a marriage, but it also leads to a significant life change for the entire family. Often, navigating the legal process of divorce can also be intimidating, confusing, and overwhelming.

If you’re facing divorce court in Illinois, it’s important to understand the steps involved, what to expect from each step of the process, and how to prepare for court appearances. With Tommalieh Law, the best divorce lawyers in Orland Park, you are assured to get through this difficult time as smoothly as possible.

We offer free consultations at Tommalieh Law so contact us today to get your case started!

Understanding Divorce and what it's about.

Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. In Illinois, divorce is legally referred to as “dissolution of marriage.” Having to dissolve a union that was once flourishing with love is an emotionally trying process. As divorce statistics show in 2020 alone, Illinois saw 1.6 divorces for every 1,000 people living in the state which is interpreted to mean that a little more than 10,000 people file for divorce in Illinois each year. Interestingly, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state.

gavel on the desk of an attorney working on a divorce court case

To make the situation more manageable, it is important to understand the different factors that play a role in a vast majority of divorce cases. These factors include decisions on child custody, marital property division, alimony, and more.

What Issues or Disagreements Could Cause a Divorce Case to Go to Trial?

Every divorce is different, but there are certain common issues or disagreements that could cause a divorce case to go to trial. In many cases, the parties will not be able to come to an agreement on these issues due to irreconcilable differences and will have to let the judge decide. These disputes or disagreements include:


Custody refers to the legal responsibility for the care and well-being of any minor children of the marriage. As an aspect of divorce, when this legal issue goes to trial, the court considers multiple factors to decide who will have primary custody of the children. In determining the child custody arrangements, for example, the court will look at the parent’s mental and physical health, lifestyle, and other factors.

You should know that in a divorce action or case, both parents are typically granted joint custody, however, one parent may be awarded sole physical custody if deemed necessary by the court. This is in cases where the parent is deemed to be a danger to the minor child and has unhealthy habits or lifestyles.

Learn More: Find the Right Child Custody Lawyer For You!

Also, when the interest of the child or children becomes contested, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the children to advocate on their behalf.

The different types of custody may include legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who has the legal authority to make decisions regarding the health, education, and welfare of the minor children; physical custody refers to where the children will reside.

Asset Division

This means the division of all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. It is usually one of the legal matters that must be determined in a divorce. The divorce court in Illinois will divide all marital assets equitably. This doesn’t necessarily mean the assets are divided 50/50, but rather fairly based on the court’s determination. This division of property could include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, pensions as well as credit card debt and other liabilities. 


Alimony is the financial support one spouse pays to the other after a divorce has been granted. Illinois alimony is referred to as spousal maintenance or spousal support, and the court determines how much, if any, one spouse should pay to the other based on a variety of factors.

These include each spouse’s earning potential, the length of the marriage, and the overall financial situation of both parties. Other factors, such as the presence of children, may also be taken into consideration when determining alimony payments. Call Tamir Tommalieh, our experienced alimony attorney in Orland Park, today for more questions!

Child Support

The well-being and interest of the child, during a divorce proceeding, are always a top priority. Along with custody decisions, parental responsibility would include child support payments. Child support refers to the financial contribution of both parents toward the child’s care and well-being. This can include money for healthcare, food, housing, transportation, and other necessities.

a divorce lawyer explaining divorce court in Illinois

Divorce court in Illinois uses an income-share model to determine the amount of child support payments. This means that the court will look at both parents’ incomes and then decide how much each parent should pay based on their relative incomes. Other relevant factors may include the number of children in the household, the cost of living in each household, and any special needs of the children. It's important to speak to a knowledgeable Orland Park child support lawyer for more details.

What Usually Happens at a Divorce Trial In Illinois?

All divorce trials are different and the details of your trial will depend on the issues at hand. Generally, however, most divorce civil trials follow a similar pattern in Illinois.

First, the court will hear evidence from each side regarding the issues that are at hand. This could include testimony from both parties, witnesses, and/or experts. After all of the evidence has been heard, each side will present closing arguments. The judge will then make a decision on the various outstanding issues and how they should be handled.

FAQ: What questions should I be ready to ask my divorce lawyer?

Once the trial is completed, both parties will receive written notification of the court’s decision. This decision is legally binding, and if either party does not comply with the court’s ruling, they may face legal consequences including fines or even jail time.

An experienced divorce lawyer can help navigate the adversarial divorce process and ensure that all legal requirements and grounds for filing a divorce petition are met.

Do You Need to Go to Court For an Uncontested Divorce?

No, you do not need to go to divorce court in Illinois if your divorce is uncontested as opposed to a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties have agreed to all of the terms and conditions of the divorce.

In these cases, all that is needed is for one or both of the parties to file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. If both parties agree to all of the terms, then a judge will review the paperwork and issue an order of dissolution, formally ending the marriage. For any questions, please contact our experienced uncontested divorce lawyer at Tommalieh Law today!

What Happens at the Final Divorce Hearing if There is a Settlement Agreement?

If there is a settlement agreement between the parties, then it will be presented to the judge at the final divorce hearing. The judge will review the agreement and ask common questions to ensure that it is fair and equitable for both parties. 

divorce court date written on a calendar

If the judge approves the settlement, then they will sign off on it and the divorce will be finalized as the divorce settlement agreement. If the judge does not approve of the agreement, then they may ask for changes to be made or refer the parties to divorce mediation in order to try and reach an agreement.

Why You Need an Experienced Divorce Attorney - Tommalieh Law

Navigating any aspect of the divorce process can be complicated and difficult, so it is important to have an experienced legal professional on your side. At Tommalieh Law, our Orland Park family attorneys have extensive experience dealing with divorce cases and can help you prepare for trial and ensure that your rights are protected.

We understand that divorce can be a difficult and emotional process. So, our attorney will work with you and provide the legal advice and guidance you need to successfully navigate the divorce process in Illinois. We are committed to providing our clients with quality and compassionate representation during this difficult time in their lives.

Call or text us today at (708) 232-0017 to get answers to any questions about divorce law or your rights in divorce.

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