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Kevin O'Flaherty

This article explains what to expect from a divorce prove-up in Illinois. We answer the questions:

  • What is a prove-up in a divorce case?
  • How long does a divorce prove-up take?
  • Who needs to attend a divorce prove-up hearing?
  • What is a “default prove-up” in divorce? 
  • What happens at a divorce prove-up hearing? 
  • What happens after a divorce prove-up hearing?”.

What is a Prove-Up in a Divorce Case?

A “prove-up” is a term used to refer to the final hearing regarding a divorce proceeding. In order to have a “prove-up hearing,” both parties must agree upon the terms of the divorce, including the division of assets and allocation of parenting time. If the parties do not agree on a settlement, the case will proceed to trial for final judgment, and a prove-up hearing will not be necessary.  

Be it through settlement or trial, a divorce cannot be finalized without approval from the court. If a judge finds a settlement agreement incomplete or unconscionable (meaning one-sided or unfair), the settlement agreement can be rejected for further modification. You should consult with an attorney before scheduling a prove-up hearing to ensure your settlement will be upheld by the court, avoiding unnecessary court fees.

How Long Does a Divorce Prove-Up Take?

The prove-up itself is a short hearing, lasting anywhere from 5-30 minutes. The amount of time a prove-up takes can vary widely from case to case. There are other extraneous factors to consider, such as all parties arriving on time and whether or not the court is running on schedule. It could be 1-2 hours from the moment you set foot in the courthouse until you can leave, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Who Needs to Attend a Divorce Prove-Up Hearing?

In Illinois, the petitioner (person who first filed for divorce) is always required to attend the prove-up. In most cases, attendance of the respondent (the person who was served divorce papers) is optional, though recommended. Laws can vary from county to county, so make sure you know whether or not your presence is required. Each party’s counselor will attend the prove-up if an attorney represents you. You can bring witnesses to the prove-up, as it takes place in open court. Still, it is more common for the parties and their legal representatives to be the only people in attendance.

What is a Default Prove-Up in Divorce?

The petitioner is the only person required to attend the prove-up hearing. If the respondent cannot be reached or refuses to attend, your case can still move forward as long as an effort was made in good faith to notify the respondent of the date, time, and location of the prove-up. This is known as a “default prove-up,” as opposed to an “uncontested prove-up,” with both parties agreeing to the terms of their settlement prior to the hearing.

What Happens at a Divorce Prove-Up Hearing?

The petitioner and respondent (if present) will testify before a judge, acknowledging that each party agrees to the terms of the settlement, has not been coerced and that the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is deemed fair and accepted by the state.  

After being sworn in, the petitioner will go first. The petitioner’s attorney will ask a few standard questions, which, apart from their name, can typically be answered with a “yes” or “no.” The questions being asked essentially summarize the terms of your settlement for the judge. Then, the respondent will follow the same process. The judge may ask a few follow-up questions, but this is not always the case. Once the judge is satisfied, your decree will be signed then and there, and you will officially be divorced. Your attorney will likely brief you on the content of the questions right before your prove-up. None of the questions are meant to put you on the spot or be surprising in any way.

What Happens After a Divorce Prove-Up Hearing?

After the prove-up, if both parties are present, it is likely you will both sign the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. If the respondent is not present, your divorce will still be official at the end of the proceedings. Typically, your attorney will tie up any loose ends you may have after the prove-up, such as setting up a withholding of income for child support and/or maintenance. It may take a few days to receive all of the paperwork, but after your prove-up hearing, your divorce will be concluded.

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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