A common question I receive is, “what happens after I file for divorce?” And the answer to that is, that service must be made on the respondent/defendant.
In a divorce proceeding, service of the summons and divorce petition can be made (1) by leaving a copy of the summons and petition with the defendant personally, (2) by leaving a copy at the defendant’s usual place of abode, with some person of the family or a person residing there, of the age of 13 years or upwards, and informing that person of the contents of the summons, provided the officer or other person making service shall also send a copy of the summons in a sealed envelope with postage fully prepaid, addressed to the defendant at his or her usual place of abode, or (3) The certificate of the officer or affidavit of the person that he or she has sent the copy in pursuance of this Section is evidence that he or she has done so. In impractical circumstances the Court may allow service by special order of the court or by publication. 735 ILCS 5/2-202-6
In Illinois, service can be made by several people; sheriff, private detective, coroner, special process server. It is important to check your local rules as well to make sure service is done correctly.
After service is made, the respondent typically has thirty (30) days to file their appearance or hire an attorney to appear on their behalf. During the thirty (30) day interim period, contact cannot be made with respondent/defendant regarding the case until they file their appearance. Once they or an attorney file their appearance, communication can be made regarding the case.
The initial period of commencing a divorce case can take a little longer than most people expect; hiring an attorney, drafting pleadings and opening the case at the County building, sending the documents out for service and then waiting the thirty (30) day period. It is best to find an attorney that you work well with and who will take the time to explain the divorce procedures and processes with you so that you can try and make this procedure as less stressful as possible.