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Can You Divorce Someone in Illinois Without Them Knowing?

 Posted on September 14, 2023 in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyerIn Illinois, you cannot legally divorce someone without their knowledge. Both spouses must be served with divorce papers before the divorce can be finalized. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but they are very limited.

Considering a divorce but not sure how to go about filing? Speak with an attorney to discuss your options as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand your rights, provide guidance, and legally represent you in court if necessary.

What Are the Requirements to Get Divorced in Illinois?

It is important to know the location of your spouse during a divorce for a few reasons:

  • To serve them with the divorce papers

  • To discuss the terms of the divorce with them

  • To reach an agreement on child custody and support

  • To protect your assets

  • To avoid surprises at trial

The Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution requires that everyone be given proper notice of any court action. This is fair because it allows people to know if they are a defendant in a court case.

You must provide notice to your spouse after filing for divorce. This is usually done by personally handing them the summons and complaint for the divorce. This puts them formally "on notice" of the divorce proceedings.

What are the Exceptions? 

Two exceptions to this rule are if your spouse is either missing or incarcerated. This requires that you serve them by mail or publication, which is often difficult and may not be successful.

In the case that your spouse is missing or cannot be found, you can file for divorce by publication. This means that you will publish notice of your divorce in a newspaper in the county where your spouse was last known to live. The notice will be published once a week for three consecutive weeks, so it will take some time.

An incarcerated spouse may require that you file for divorce by certified mail. You will need to send a copy of the divorce papers to your spouse's prison, but you do not need to have them served in person.

Remember that you can only use these services when actual physical service is impossible. You should also know that by serving your spouse by publication, you are getting a default divorce unless they respond to the publication.

Physical Service

If your spouse is not missing, incarcerated, or otherwise unable to be served, you will need to have them served in person. This means that a process server will need to hand them the divorce papers. Illinois law requires that either a sheriff or court-appointed special process server serve the notice.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Divorce Attorney

Divorce in Illinois is never as simple as filing and forgetting. There are a lot of extra steps involved that could make things more complicated than expected. Discuss your sensitive legal issues with a DuPage County, IL divorce attorney like those at the Davi Law Group. Contact the firm at 630-657-5052 for a free consultation and evaluation of your unique circumstances.

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