Pitfalls in Filing for Divorce

There are many nuances in any court case.  A divorce is no different and I have recently run into a few pitfalls from clients who begin their case on their own (aka “Pro Se”).  Check out the following for a short list of some major pitfalls so you can learn from those who filed before you!

This is not a substitute for legal advice.
This is legal information. This does not
create an attorney-client relationship.

  1. Social Security Numbers: Some of the forms published in Illinois ask for a social security number to be filled out before filing.  It is important to either leave this information out (even if it asks for it on the document), or make sure to mark that document as “confidential” when e-filing.  For example, the “Certificate for Dissolution of Marriage” has a place to add both the Petitioner and Respondent’s social security number.  Remember–the divorce and most of the contents of the divorce are public record.  There is almost never a reason to file something confidential, such as an account number, social security number, or even a child’s name, in the divorce filings.  Ask an attorney before filing confidential information with the court!
  2. Summons: Make sure you fill out the address section on the summons and take the second step to bring it to the sheriff’s department for service.  Filing this form with the Court seems like enough to have the other person served, but you do need to take that next step!  For more detailed information, check out Illinois Legal Aid Online.
  3. Timelines: If there are children involved, there is a short window of time where you are required to file a proposed parenting plan with the court (aka a visitation or custody schedule–the language changed in Illinois in January 2016).  The proposed parenting plan is typically due within 120 days of the original filing.  This can go by quickly when you are focused on so many things in a divorce so try and get it done sooner rather than later!