Are you considering a divorce in Illinois? If so, it's helpful to have a basic understanding of the process before beginning the legal proceedings.
Below, we outline how a typical divorce in Schaumburg occurs and break down the basic steps into chronological order:
Step 1: Filing a Petition
A divorce legally begins when one party files a form called a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" with the circuit court located in the county where at least one of the spouses lives. Either spouse can file the petition, and the court will not give any preferential treatment to the filing party. The petition includes basic information about living arrangements, grounds for divorce, children, and more.
A petition for dissolution of marriage will outline straightforward facts about the marriage, including the reasons, or "grounds," the filing party has for wanting to divorce their spouse. An Illinois court will grant a "no-fault" divorce if the couple has lived apart for more than two years without reconciliation.
However, the court will decrease the separation period to only six months if both parties agree to it in writing. Also, spouses can still satisfy the "separate or apart" living requirement, even if they live in different areas of the same household. Finally, if spouses share financial duties and attend counseling, they can still begin the separation period.
Step 2: Service of Process
After the petition gets filed, the filing party (the "petitioner" or "plaintiff") is responsible for formally "serving" it on the other spouse (the "defendant" or "respondent"). This presentation and hand-delivery are proof for the court that both parties are aware of the case and were notified with sufficient time to prepare. Often, a full-time process server or a sheriff will be the one completing the service of process rather than the filing spouse.
Step 3: Filing a Response
Once the spouse who received the petition is formally served with a copy, they have the opportunity and responsibility to file a legal document known as a "response" with the court. This filing triggers the case to proceed.
Step 4: Ordering Temporary Support
Divorces often result in one party being expected to make "support" payments to their spouse, children, or both to help all family members maintain the lifestyles they were accustomed to before the divorce.
In some situations when spouses are not living together after filing for divorce, their judge can order temporary support payments that the supporting party must pay at least until the divorce is finalized, and the parties can agree upon more permanent payment terms.
Step 5: Financial Investigation and Negotiation
This step, commonly known as "discovery" in the legal field, is typically where the parties spend most of their time during their divorce proceedings. During discovery, each party must review financial disclosures, estimate asset values, and negotiate settlement amounts.
Discovery is also the phase where parties may request depositions and issue subpoenas.
Step 6: Determining Child Support, Custody, and Visitation Rights
As is the case with any temporary support orders and payments, many divorce cases also involve temporary orders regarding child custody, support, and visitation rights.
If the parties have children, the judge may issue a temporary order outlining how each parent is to financially and emotionally support these children during the pendency of the trial.
Step 7: Pre-Trial and Trial Matters
Suppose they cannot settle their differences outside of the courtroom. In that case, both spouses will participate in an official trial to determine "hot issues," such as parenting time, support payments, and equitable distribution of their assets.
If the case proceeds to trial, attorneys will often represent and guide the parties through the pre-trial conference, the trial, and the post-trial motions. Because divorce trials can be expensive and emotionally draining, many couples prefer to settle their cases and compromise on the most important issues to avoid more formal court appearances.
Get Legal Help for Your Divorce in Illinois
When you need a trusted Schaumburg divorce lawyer on your side, Mr. Robert M. Kaplan can help. Our law office will represent you throughout your divorce to help ensure you're getting a fair and equitable result in your family's best interest.