This guide provides the Do's and Don't's for appearing and participating in your divorce case.
Do Appear in Your Case
At the time you are served with divorce papers, you should receive a form called a Summons telling you that you must appear in the case and respond in writing to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage within a certain amount of time (typically 30 days from the date of service). The summons will also tell you where to file your appearance and response. File your appearance and response within the time allowed at the designated location. If you fail to appear, you will not receive notices of important court dates, motions, or other importance events happening in your case.
Do File Your Response
At the same time you file your appearance, it is important to file a written response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Your spouse's Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will list their allegations regarding the case, and request the judge to grant the divorce, as well as any other requests, such as maintenance and child support. If you disagree with any of the allegations set forth in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, you should put it in writing by responding to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you disagree with anything listed in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, but fail to respond in writing or otherwise make that disagreement known, the Court will assume you agree with what is stated. Your response should be filed at the same time you file your appearance in the case.
Don't Fail to Appear or Respond within the Time Allowed
If you fail to appear in the case or respond to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage within the time frame provided in the summons, a default judgment can, and most likely will, be entered against you. Under the law, if your spouse has properly served you with divorce papers and you do not appear in the case or respond to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage within the time provided on the Summons, your spouse can ask the Judge to enter a default judgment against you for your failure to timely appear and respond. The default judgment will address any and all issues that may be appropriate to address in your case, such as dividing your marital property, dividing your debts, awarding any non-marital property to the appropriate party, finalizing custody of your children, and awarding child support and maintenance based upon the circumstances. As a result, a default judgment is just like any other judgement that could be entered in the case after a trial, except for one important difference: the default judgment can and likely will favor the party who filed for divorce. Therefore, it is important not to allow yourself to be defaulted!
Do Vacate Any Default Judgments
Even if the judge enters a default judgment against you for failing to appear and respond to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage within the time provided, all hope is not lost. Pursuant to the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, a party may request the court vacate a default judgment within thirty (30) days of the entry of the default judgment. Vacating the default judgment means the Judge would undo the default judgment, and make it as if it were never entered. If the Judge vacates the default judgment, the case will move forward as if the judgment had not been entered. Since you only have thirty (30) days to request the court to vacate the default judgment, it is important you act quickly as soon as you learn you have been defaulted.
Do Continue to Participate after Vacating Any Default Judgments
If the Judge vacates the default judgment against you, you will need to continue to participate in the case or risk being defaulted again. Therefore, make sure you are getting all notices, that you attend all court dates, and that you follow any directions the judge gives you, whether the judge provides those directions to you in person during a court date, or sets forth those directions in a court order.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on
their profile in addition to the information we collect from state
bar associations and other organizations that license legal
professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo
with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do
What determines Avvo Rating?
Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, education
Legal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awards
Legal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagements
This lawyer was disciplined by a state licensing authority in .
Disciplinary information may not be comprehensive, or updated. We recommend that you always check a lawyer's disciplinary status with their respective state bar association before hiring them.