To commence a case, your lawyer will file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, which needs to be served on your spouse. When you file your petition, the clerk will issue a summons. You will pay a service fee and the clerk will forward the petition and summons to the county sheriff. The sheriff will then attempt to serve the divorce petition and summons on your spouse.
If you suspect your spouse might evade service or the sheriff was unsuccessful, you can hire a private process servicer. Private process servers, which are usually more expensive, will sometimes be faster and more persistent.
If your spouse does not live in the county where you filed the petition, or lives outside of Illinois, you will need to contact the sheriff for the county where your spouse lives to determine that county’s procedure for serving the summons and petition.
If you cannot find your spouse to serve him or her with the divorce papers, then you can serve by publication, upon court approval. Since service of process is critical, service by publication is a last resort and you should consult with a qualified family law attorney before pursuing this option.
Once you have served your spouse, you will need to wait 30 days to see if he or she responds to the petition. If the opposing party does not file a response to the petition within 30 days of being properly served, then a motion for a default judgment can be filed seeking the relief set out in the petition.