Can You Get a Divorce in Illinois When Your Spouse is Unwilling?


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What if your spouse doesn’t want a divorce?

Divorce is a deeply personal and life-changing decision that couples can face. Ideally, both spouses would willingly participate in the process, and seek an amicable resolution. However, your spouse  may be unwilling to cooperate with your desire to get a divorce, which causes frustration and uncertainty.

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential to know that a divorce can still be possible in Illinois, even if your spouse is uncooperative. At Reidy Law Office, we understand the challenges you may be facing and are here to guide you through the process of divorcing an unwilling spouse.

Do Both Spouses Have to Agree to Divorce in Illinois?

In Illinois, both spouses do not need to agree to divorce. The state follows a “no-fault” divorce law, which means that irreconcilable differences are sufficient grounds for the dissolution of a marriage. Even if your spouse refuses to participate or disagrees with the divorce, you can still initiate the process.

Divorcing an Unwilling Spouse

When your spouse is unwilling to cooperate, it can complicate the divorce process. Your spouse may have a variety of reasons why they don’t want to cooperate, but their reasons will not stop you from moving forward if that is what you need to do.  If you feel that your marriage is broken and it cannot be fixed, then you have irreconcilable differences and can get divorced.

If a spouse receives divorce papers but decides not to respond, after 30 days, the filing spouse can request a default judgment. This means that the divorce can proceed without the participation of the unresponsive spouse. However, the unresponsive spouse still needs to be notified about court hearings and important dates.

In a default judgment, the judge will enter a judgment for dissolution meaning you can get a divorce, but the judge may not be able to address everything. The judge will decide on child support, division of assets, alimony, and other relevant matters, usually in favor of the spouse who initiated the divorce. It allows the divorce process to move forward even if one spouse is not actively involved.

If you are determined to get a divorce even with an unwilling spouse, you can do so with the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.

Divorcing a Missing or Unresponsive Spouse in Illinois

In cases where a spouse may be missing or unresponsive, you can still get divorced. If you know where they live, but they are unresponsive, you can serve them and proceed by default. If you cannot find them, you can ultimately serve them via publication (or social media in some circumstances) and then proceed by default. This means that the divorce can proceed based on the initiating party’s petition alone, without the active involvement of the other spouse. However, specific legal requirements must be met, including diligent efforts to locate the missing spouse and providing notice of the divorce through publication in a newspaper or other approved methods.

The Process of Getting a Default Divorce

To obtain a divorce from a spouse who is missing or cannot be reached, you will need to provide evidence to the court that you have taken reasonable steps to locate them. This includes serving notices at their last known address or workplace, as well as searching for information about their whereabouts in sources like obituaries, hospital records, and jail records. You may also need to contact people who might know their location, such as friends or family members.

Additionally, publishing your divorce petition in a local newspaper where your spouse was last known to reside can be required. These efforts demonstrate to the court that you have made diligent attempts to locate your spouse and proceed with the divorce process.

If the spouse who is missing cannot be located, the divorce process can proceed based on the preferences of the spouse who initiated the divorce. In cases where there are minor children involved, the spouse who filed for divorce will typically be granted full custody.

The Petitioner (the spouse who filed for divorce) has the right to request full custody of the children, claim all assets, exclude any responsibility for debts, seek maintenance or child support for themselves, and avoid any obligation to pay maintenance to the defaulted spouse. If the Respondent (missing spouse) is not present to challenge or provide a counter-testimony, the court may grant the Petitioner’s requests and issue a final order based on the evidence presented.

Getting divorced may only be the first step. If your spouse is not cooperating, you may experience problems enforcing the judgment. To avoid difficulties, it is crucial to work with an experienced divorce lawyer in Illinois.

At Reidy Law Office, we understand the emotional toll that divorcing an unwilling spouse can take. Our compassionate team of family law attorneys is dedicated to supporting you throughout this challenging journey. We will explain the legal process, assess your unique situation, and provide guidance tailored to your needs.

The Strong Legal Support You Need at This Time

If you are facing the difficulty of divorcing an unwilling spouse, don’t face it alone. Contact Reidy Law Office today to schedule a consultation. Our experienced attorneys will provide you with the knowledge, support, and representation you need to navigate the divorce process successfully.