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Petitions for Relief from Judgment in Illinois | How to Overturn a Court Order

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

In this article we explain motions for relief from judgment in Illinois and how to overturn a court order. We discuss: 

  • How to challenge a court order in Illinois;
  • What is a petition for relief from judgment?;
  • Grounds for a motion for relief from judgment in Illinois;
  • Deadline for petitions for relief from judgment in Illinois; and
  • How to Serve a Petition for Relief From Judgment in Illinois.

How to challenge a court order in Illinois

Petitions for relief from judgment are one of many ways to overturn a court order, other options include motions to reconsider and appeals.  For an overview of your options in overturning a court order, check out our article: Post-Trial Motions in Illinois Divorce

What is a petition for relief from judgment?

A petition for relief from judgment can be used to overturn the final order of a court in order to prevent injustice.  

Grounds for a motion for relief from judgment in Illinois

In order to be successful on a petition for relief from judgment, the petitioner must show the following:

  • That a meritorious claim or defense exists that would cause the court to reverse its prior ruling; 
  • That the petitioner acted with due diligence in presenting the claim or defense in the original action; 
  • That through no fault of the petitioner, the claim or defense was not made at the time that the original order was entered; and 
  • That the petitioner acted with due diligence in filing the petition for relief from judgment.  

Petitions for relief from judgment in Illinois are most often filed  in the following situations: 

  • New evidence is discovered after the trial that could not have been discovered by the petitioner prior to the trial; 
  • The petitioner was not properly served with process and was not aware that the trial was taking place; or
  • In the context of a divorce settlement, when the settlement was unconscionable or the result of fraud or duress. 

Deadline for petitions for relief from judgment in Illinois 

Petitions for relief from judgment may be filed within two years of the judgment order in question.  However, if the new evidence in question was fraudulently concealed from the petitioner, this will delay the deadline.  So will the petitioner’s disability.  

If the original judgment is void because the petitioner was never properly served, the two-year deadline does not apply.  

How to Serve a Petition for Relief From Judgment in Illinois

Petitions for relief from judgment, while filed with the same court that entered the original order, are technically the opening of a new case.  This means that the respondent must be served by personal service.  This generally means that the respondent should be served by sheriff, special process server, or certified mail with restricted delivery.  


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Petitions for Relief from Judgment in Illinois | How to Overturn a Court Order

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