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Kevin O'Flaherty

If you’re wondering “how much does a divorce cost in Illinois?”, you’re not alone. On average, a straightforward divorce can run around $13,800. Factors such as child custody disputes or property division can push this cost higher, with divorces involving such matters averaging $20,700 and $19,400, respectively. Yet, these numbers are just the start; the complexity of the case and your approach can either shrink or swell the total expenses. Our article provides a comprehensive breakdown of how much does a divorce cost in Illinois, equipping you with the knowledge to financially navigate this challenging life event.

The cost of a divorce in Illinois can also depend on the county where the case is filed. Court filing fees can range from $200 to $400, and additional fees may be for service of process, mediation, and other court-related expenses.  

It's essential to note that some legal firms offer fixed-fee or flat-fee divorce services that can provide a more predictable cost for the divorce process. However, it's crucial to research and compare the different options before choosing a legal representative.  

Exploring the Spectrum of Divorce Costs in Illinois

Divorce costs in Illinois can vary significantly based on a variety of factors. Here is a breakdown of the average divorce cost.

  • The average cost of divorce is $13,800.
  • Divorces involving children can cost approximately $20,700.
  • Divorces involving property division can cost approximately $19,400.
  • Complex divorces, characterized by disagreements and legal battles, typically incur even higher costs, largely influenced by the intricacies of the couple’s specific situation.

Contested divorces, where the divorcing parties are at odds over one or more issues, tend to be particularly expensive. The presence of high-net-worth individuals or complex financial situations can push costs even higher, with contested divorces in Illinois typically costing between $10,000 to $15,000.

Prepare yourself, as this is merely the beginning of our exploration of divorce costs.

Filing Fees: The Starting Line

Initiating the divorce process involves the submission of legal documentation, which incurs specific costs. These fees for filing a divorce differ from one county to another in Illinois and fall between approximately $210 and $388. As an illustration, within Cook County—one of Illinois’ largest counties—individuals are expected to pay:

  • A fee of $337 to initiate a divorce case
  • An amount of $206 if responding to a filed case
  • An additional cost of $60 for sheriff service
  • And another charge, this time being a mandatory payment of $50 towards court-mandated parenting classes

For those concerned about their ability to cover these expenses associated with filing for divorce in Cook County or other regions in Illinois, there may be some relief available. Fee waivers can potentially be granted based on your income level and financial situation if you find yourself financially incapable of paying the required charges associated with initiating or responding to a petition for dissolution (divorce).

Attorney Fees: Understanding Retainers and Hourly Rates

When you submit your divorce papers, it often becomes essential to hire a divorce attorney. At this point, the financial aspects such as retainer fees and hourly rates become relevant. The retainer fee is an advance payment made to secure the services of an attorney for your case’s entirety, which is then applied toward the overall cost as legal services continue.

In Illinois, divorce attorneys commonly bill at an hourly rate that averages around $260. To calculate the total cost of representation from these lawyers, multiply their hourly rate by how much time they dedicate to your case. It’s important to note that both complexity and length can significantly raise legal expenses. Intricate cases with disputes are likely more time-consuming than simpler ones resulting in higher bills due mainly because they require additional hours worked by your lawyer Some offer fixed rates particularly if facing an uncontested where terms have been agreed upon without dispute.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces: A Cost Comparison

How do the costs of contested versus uncontested divorces compare? In Illinois, an uncontested divorce generally ranges from $1,000 to $5,000. It’s a relatively painless process, especially if the divorce is simple and both parties are in agreement. On the other hand, a contested divorce can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 or more. The degree of cooperation between spouses can significantly affect the cost of divorce, with uncontested divorces typically resulting in lower costs due to reduced need for extensive court intervention and attorney involvement.

Given these figures, it’s evident that mutual agreement with your spouse can lead to substantial savings. Even if your divorce is not entirely uncontested, finding areas of agreement and resolving disputes through negotiation or mediation can help keep costs down and make the process smoother and less stressful for all involved.

couple talking to attorney looking at a laptop


Different Types of Separation in Illinois  


An Illinois uncontested divorce is a type of divorce where both parties agree to all the divorce terms, including property division, child custody and support, and spousal support. Since there is no dispute between the parties, an uncontested divorce can be faster and less expensive than a contested divorce. On average, an uncontested divorce in Illinois can cost between $1,000 and $5,000.  


Mediation in divorce is when a neutral third party helps the couple work through the divorce issues and reach a settlement agreement. The mediator doesn't make decisions for the couple but instead facilitates communication and helps them reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediation can be a less expensive and less stressful alternative to going to court, and it can help the couple maintain control over the outcome of their divorce.  

Generally, divorce mediation in Illinois can cost between $100 to $400 per hour, with an average total cost ranging from $2,500 to $7,500. However, some mediators offer flat fees for their services, ranging from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the case's complexity.  


A contested divorce is a legal proceeding where one or both spouses cannot agree on one or more issues related to the divorce, such as child custody, division of property, or spousal support. This type of divorce can be emotionally and financially draining and typically involves a lengthy court process. It may require the intervention of attorneys, expert witnesses, and judges to resolve the issues in dispute. On average, a contested divorce can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 or more, including attorney's fees and court costs.  

Other Factors That Affect the Cost of Divorce in Illinois  

Alimony and children can significantly affect the cost of divorce in Illinois. Determining child custody, support, and visitation arrangements can be complex and time-consuming, leading to increased legal fees. Similarly, determining the amount and duration of spousal support (alimony) can also require significant negotiation and legal knowledge, adding to the overall cost of the divorce.  

A trial or a contested property division can also significantly impact the cost of divorce in Illinois. In cases where the divorcing parties cannot reach a settlement agreement and a trial is necessary, the cost of the divorce can increase significantly. The more complex the property division is, the more time and resources will be required to resolve the issues, which can also drive up the cost of the divorce.  

person taking wedding band off of finger

Who Pays for Divorce?  

In most cases, each spouse is responsible for paying their own attorney's fees and costs in a divorce. However, the specific arrangements may vary depending on the situation. For instance, one spouse may be required to pay the other spouse's attorney's fees and costs if they have a significantly higher income or greater access to marital assets. Additionally, some couples may agree to share the divorce costs equally, or the court may order one spouse to pay a portion of the other spouse's attorney's fees and costs. Ultimately, it is up to the parties involved and the court to determine who pays for the divorce.  

Cheapest Way to Get a Divorce in Illinois  

The cheapest way to get a divorce in Illinois is through an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all issues, including division of assets, custody and support of children, and alimony. This eliminates the need for lengthy court battles and expensive legal fees, making it a more affordable option. Other cost-effective options include mediation and collaborative divorce.  

Overall, the cost of a divorce in Illinois can vary depending on many factors, and it's advisable to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to get a better idea of the expected cost of your specific case.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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