What are my Options to Cancel my expensive Illinois Divorce?

What if I change my mind after filing for divorce? How to I get my Divorce case canceled in Illinois when I live in Cook or DuPage County? I hear this question every once in a while and want to let you know that unless your divorce has been made final (you are divorced), it is not too late to cancel or un-do your divorce case in Illinois. Many people decide to cancel it once they realize how expensive it can get. Your spouse should ideally be in agreement and this being the case, while it will require a court appearance, it is possible to withdraw a petition for dissolution of marriage, essentially un-doing the filing for divorce. There may a better way if you are not completely certain, putting the divorce on hold on what is known in most Illinois courts as the"Reconciliation Calendar".  This will save you time, effort and money in case the divorce is back on after a while. If, however, your spouse filed what is called a "counter-petition" in the case, they have the right to keep the case going. 

Filing for divorce is in many ways a lot like getting engaged, only in reverse. Once you are engaged, you are still legally single until you say “I do”. And once you file for divorce by submitting an initial document (the “Petition”) with the court, you are still legally married until you say “I don’t” in front of the judge (more or less!) and take the necessary legal steps to finalize the divorce, usually several months (or in some cases, years) later. A lot can happen in that time and just like most engagements result in marriage, most divorce filings result in a divorce. But it doesn’t have to be.

Can I just dismiss my divorce? 

So if you are changing your mind about getting a divorce, why not just dismiss the case and re-file if you have to, rather than bothering with the reconciliation calendar?  First of all, if you have to re-file, you are starting at square one again. Fees, service of process, new Petition and Answer…. you get the picture. Ugh. Many people go on the reconciliation calendar just in case. Sometimes even the best attempts to save the marriage after the divorce is filed still results in divorce.

A few words of caution… First of all, you should both be in agreement to give your marriage another try during the divorce. If only one of you is willing to try to work it out, it isn’t going to work. Second of all, discuss the issues of “grounds for divorce” with your lawyer.  In Illinois, the only grounds we now use are irreconcilable differences and if you get back together, the clock may be re-set depending on the exact circumstances. This means that you might have to wait longer to get divorced once the process starts back up again, assuming that reconciliation is not a success. I personally disagree with this position because it discourages people from trying to save a marriage that might still have hope. Do we really want to punish families for that? I say no, but no one asked for my input when the law was written. If you are representing yourself in a divorce that you no longer are sure about moving forward on, I may be able to help you cancel or put a hold on your divorce. 

What if its just getting too expensive?

Divorce is very expensive, with most Chicago area lawyers charging upwards of $300 per hour, which can add up fast. If you are thinking of canceling your divorce based on cost alone, but still want to be divorced, you may want to consider divorce mediation.  If you aren't divorced yet because there are a few or even several issues which are hanging things up because you cannot agree, it may be time to either set the case for trial (which is even more expensive but does provide an end date) or attempt to work things out with your spouse in mediation, which is definitely something that we can help you with. Neither your lawyer nor your spouse's lawyer should be acting as mediator, because your mediator is neutral.  It could help you get over the hump and put your divorce back in action. Be sure to request your free Chicago mediation guide, which will answer your questions about how we might be able to help you keep your divorce while cutting back on legal fees. Or give us a call at 630 250-8813 to speak with Carol about the process of mediation, to see if you are a good candidate. 


Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.
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