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Divorce options for people dissolving their marriage in Illinois

Illinois couples filing for divorce have four options on how to submit their paperwork, including court litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce and pro se.

As couples exchange sacred vows on their wedding day, many do not foresee filing for divorce years later. Unfortunately, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. While some marriages are dissolved in an amicable fashion, others end in a heated and emotional court battle. In Illinois, couples wishing to end their marriage have several different options on how to do so.

Traditional court litigation

Many people believe that the traditional concept of filing for divorce involves the attorneys who are representing each party negotiating and drafting a divorce settlement. Often times, each spouse meets separately with their attorney when negotiating the terms of the settlement. In some cases where the couple cannot agree on the final terms of the settlement, the divorce may be taken to court where the decree is finalized by a court-appointed judge. Court litigation often ends in strong emotions, bitterness and a tainted relationship between the couple. However, for couples who cannot discuss the matters of divorce in a civil manner, court litigation may be the best option.


When a couple is unable to draft a divorce settlement on their own, but are able to civilly discuss the topics involved, they may choose to undergo mediation. Although the couple is ultimately in charge of creating their own settlement, these out-of-court sessions take place under the general direction of a third-party mediator. The mediator is available to answer any neutral legal questions, but will not give one party any specific legal counsel. According to the American Bar Association, mediation offers a quick and less expensive way to marriage dissolution, and may result in a more friendly divorce atmosphere.

Collaborative divorce

Much like mediation, the collaborative divorce process takes place out of court. However, each party has their attorney present with them during the negotiations process. Lawyers may offer vital legal counsel to their clients as the couple creates their divorce decree, as reported by In order for collaborative divorce to work, both parties must be willing to share all necessary information and assist in making decisions that will best benefit everyone involved in the divorce. Each party must sign an agreement to do so. If the couple is unable to come to an agreement and the case goes on to court, each party must find new legal representation.

Pro se divorce

Couples are also able to fill out the divorce forms on their own and submit them to the court for approval. Many people who choose to file for divorce pro se, seek legal counsel from an attorney to ensure they are getting what they deserve from the marriage. It is also essential to make sure that a couple filing for a divorce pro se has all of the correct paperwork filled out and that all of the proper precautions are in place.

The importance of an attorney

Whether you are filing for divorce through court litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce or pro se, the guidance of a personal family law attorney is vital. It can be difficult to make complicated choices during such an emotional time, and an attorney will help to make sure that you are making decisions that will benefit you and your family in the future.

Keywords: divorce, mediation, litigation, collaborative