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Motions to Reconsider a Divorce Judgment in Illinois | Motions for Retrial in Family Law

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Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we explain motions to reconsider a divorce judgment in Illinois and motions for retrial in family law cases.  We discuss the following:

  • What is a motion to reconsider?;
  • Grounds for a motion to reconsider in Illinois;
  • What is the deadline to file a motion to reconsider in Illinois?; and
  • Motions to reconsider vs. appeals in Illinois divorce. 

For more on how to challenge a divorce judgment, check out our article: Post-Trial Motions in Illinois Divorce.

What is a motion to reconsider?

A motion to reconsider is a motion asking the court to overturn a previous order.  While the motion is pending, the original order will generally be stayed, which means it is put on hold until the motion to reconsider is decided.  Exceptions to this stay are: 

  • The parties will remain divorced; and 
  • Child support and spousal maintenance must still be paid according to the original order.    

Grounds for a motion to reconsider in Illinois

The purpose of a motion to reconsider is not to allow parties to get a second bite at the apple, to raise new legal theories, or to raise new arguments based on the facts that were presented to the court.  

Rather, the purpose of a motion to reconsider is to inform the court of:

  • New evidence that was discovered after the original hearing; 
  • Changes in the law since the original hearing; or 
  • Errors in the court’s previous application of existing law.  

What is the deadline to file a Motion to Reconsider in Illinois?

735 ILCS 5/2-1203 provides that in cases decided by a judge, as opposed to a jury, the parties have 30 days after the entry of a judgment to file a motion for rehearing, retrial, modification of the judgment, or to vacate the judgment.  This is generally known as a motion to reconsider, because it asks the court to change its previous order.  

Courts may issue an extension to the deadline if a request for extension is filed within the 30 day deadline.  If you miss the deadline for a motion to reconsider, you may still file a petition for relief from judgment within 2 years of the judgment, or longer under certain circumstances.  

Motions to Reconsider vs. Appeals in Illinois Divorce

Motions to reconsider and appeals can both be used to argue that the court made an error in the application of existing law.  However, unlike a motion to reconsider, an appeal is not used to raise newly discovered facts or changes in the law.  Because a motion to reconsider tolls the deadline to appeal, parties may first attempt a motion to reconsider and, if unsuccessful, subsequently file an appeal.  Motions to reconsider are heard by the same court that issued the original divorce order.  Appeals are heard by the appellate court.  

For more on appeals, check out our article: The Illinois Appeal Process Explained.

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Motions to Reconsider a Divorce Judgment in Illinois | Motions for Retrial in Family Law

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