College of Law > Academics > Experiential Learning > Legal Clinics > Croak Community Legal Clinic > Student Legal Resources > Resources > Online Self-Help Center > Family Law Resources
A married U.S. citizens or lawful permanent resident may sponsor his or her spouse for lawful permanent residency. This process is best handled by an attorney with expertise in immigration law. CSLS can offer referrals, as needed. The process generally involves filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with US Customs & Immigration Services (USCIS). While it can take up to twelve (12) months for USCIS to review and respond to a Form I-130 application, it is still possible for the foreign spouse to live in the US while the application is pending pursuant to a K-3 visa. If the spouse has children, they may likewise be included in the Form I-130 petition and brought to live in the US pursuant to a K-4 visa while the petition is pending. Again, we urge you to consult with an immigration attorney if you are interested in pursuing any of these options.
A divorce is the legal end of a marriage and all of the legal rights and responsibilities that come along with it. A married couple can get divorced in Illinois if:
A judge will enter a divorce decree that officially ends the marriage. The decree will generally dictate:
Division of Property. How property owned by the spouses will be divided, including financial assets (money and investments), personal belongings, real estate, and debts.
Parental Responsibilities. Whether one spouse will have sole legal and physical custody and decisionmaking responsibility for the couple's children (and/or pets), or if the two spouses will share those responsibilities (joint custody), and on what terms.
Maintenance. Whether one spouse will be required to pay alimony/spousal support, or child support to the other spouse.
A contested divorce is one in which both spouses fail to agree on the basic elements of the divorce. Such divorces generally require both parties to be represented by attorneys, are more costly, and take at least 18 months to resolve. Contested issues may include:
Whether or not the couple should get a divorce
Who should have custody of any children
How real estate and personal property should be divided
How financial assets should be allocated
Whether maintenance should be paid by one spouse or another
An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on all of the key issues. Uncontested divorces must still be entered by a judge through a formal decree. However, it may be possible to accomplish this without attorneys, and the process will generally be much faster much less expensive for both sides. Illinois Legal Aid Online offers guided online forms to assist parties with uncontested divorces. You can access these forms here:
Divorce with Children
Divorce without Children
Annulment is the legal process of invalidating a marriage, which is different from divorce.
Illinois has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act. The Act helps ensure that a child custody decision made by an Illinois court will be followed in other states, and serves to reduce the likelihood that a parent will take a child across state lines in search of a more favorable court. Illinois courts recognize two different types of custody: Legal Custody (the right to make major life decisions regarding the child) and Physical Custody (where the child will physically reside). One parent may single-handedly have both forms of custody (known as "sole custody"), or custody may be divided between both parents ("joint custody").
Child support is established in Illinois by a court order. If you are interested in applying for child support services, please use the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Online Application for Child Support Services to complete an online application. You may also apply for services by printing the application form and mailing it to the address located at the top of the application. Your signed application must be received before the process may begin.
An Illinois resident who was recently married in Illinois is not required to formally petition a court in order to change their name. Instead, the process is as follows:
Request a Social Security Card Reflecting the New Name. The individual requesting the name change will need to visit a local Social Security Administration office to apply for a new Social Security card. They must bring proof of identity and the reason for the name change, including a passport or birth certificate, a drivers license, and a certified copy of a marriage license issued by an Illinois county clerk.
Request a New Drivers License Reflecting the New Name. The individual must visit a Secretary of State Driver Facility, bring their current Illinois drivers license, a certified copy of the marriage license, and the new Social Security card. Request and complete an application for a corrected license. Submit the application and pay the required fee.
Notify the Illinois Secretary of State of the Name Change. Illinois law requires one to notify the Secretary of State within 10 days of changing one's name on a drivers license. Visit the official website of the Illinois Secretary of State to notify the office online. They will have to provide their drivers license number, home address, date of birth and information on any vehicles registered in Illinois, including make, model and year.
In most cases, the process for changing one's name after a divorce should be identical to the process for changing one's name after marriage, provided that the individual has a divorce decree with a provision specifically granting the name change. A copy of this decree will serve as proof of the individual's reason for requesting the change. The process is as follows:
Request a Social Security Card Reflecting the New Name. The individual requesting the name change will need to visit a local Social Security Administration office to apply for a new Social Security card. They must bring proof of identity and the reason for the name change, including a passport or birth certificate, a drivers license, and a copy of the divorce decree granting a name change.
In the event the individual's divorce decree does not grant a name change, they should contact the court that entered the decree and ask to amend the document to include it. All Illinois courts do not allow amendments. If the request is denied, then the individual must follow the standard process for changing a name for reasons other than marriage or divorce, which is unfortunately much longer and more expensive.
Complete the Necessary Legal Forms. Obtain from the court and complete the following three forms that will be necessary to move forward with the process: Notice of Filing a Request for Name Change; Request for Name Change; Order for Name Change.
File the Forms. File these three forms with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which the individual resides.
Get a Hearing Date. The individual will receive a hearing date and time from the court.
Publish a Notice. After receiving the hearing date, notice of the name change must be published in a local newspaper with circulation in the appropriate county. The notice must include the hearing date and time, the Judge's name and courtroom number, and the case number assigned to the request.
Get a Certificate of Publication. After the notice has run, the individual must obtain a Certificate of Publication from the newspaper, certifying that the notice ran for at least 3 straight weeks. The newspaper may send the certificate directly to the court clerk or provided it directly to the individual.
Attend the Court Hearing. The individual should bring copies of all the above-mentioned documentation to the Judge's courtroom at the assigned time. When the case is called, the individual may be placed under oath and asked questions by the Judge about the name change request. The Judge will grant or deny the request and will complete and sign the Order for Name Change form.
File the Order with the Court. If the Judge grants the Order for Name Change, it will have to be filed with the court clerk in order to have legal effect.
Proceed with Updating Vital Records and IDs. Contact the Illinois Department of Public Health to request a change to an Illinois birth certificate. Contact the Social Security Administration to change the name appearing on a Social Security Card. Contact the Illinois Secretary of State to change the name on an Illinois drivers license or state ID.
In total, the process will take at least 8-10 weeks. For more detailed infomation, including fillable forms, please visit Illinois Legal Aid Online.