The Divorce Process in Illinois

Will County Divorce Lawyers

DuPage County Attorneys for the Dissolution of Marriage

For the average person, divorce is one of the most complex legal matters that he or she is ever likely to encounter. If divorce has become a possibility for you and your spouse, you may be stressed out and overwhelmed at the prospect of even initiating the proceedings, particularly if you have no prior experience with the legal system in Illinois. At McSwain Nagle Giese & Rapp, P.C., our accomplished divorce attorneys have more than 100 years of experience in the practice of family law, and we are ready to guide you through the entire divorce process from start to finish.

Your Divorce Petition

In Illinois law, a divorce is called a "dissolution of marriage," and the process formally begins when one of the spouses files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Petition should be filed in the court of the county where you or your spouse resides, with exceptions for good cause shown. You may file for divorce in Illinois if one or both of you have lived in the state for at least 90 days, regardless of where you got married. The spouse who files for divorce is called the Petitioner, and the other spouse is called the Respondent. Under the law in Illinois, a divorce can only be granted on the grounds that "irreconcilable differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage." (750 ILCS 5/401) Additionally, the Petitioner may also include in the filing requests for an equitable share of the marital assets, spousal maintenance, and parental responsibilities, based on the couple's circumstances.

Once a Petition has been filed, the other spouse will be served with a copy. Within 30 days, the Respondent must file his or her response to the assertions and requests listed in the Petition. Failure to respond or to file an appearance could lead to a default judgment in the Petitioner's favor.

Temporary Orders

Before any paperwork is filed, you and your spouse might begin discussing your plans for the proceedings. This could help you decide if you need any kind of temporary relief, including temporary orders for child support, maintenance, or parenting time. In more contentious situations, temporary relief could also include a restraining order that prohibits either spouse from taking part in wasteful, dangerous, or destructive behaviors. Temporary orders for relief are designed to stay in effect only for the duration of the divorce proceedings. They may be replaced by permanent orders or vacated when the divorce judgment is issued.

Exchanging Information

Before you and your spouse can proceed further with your divorce, the two of you will need to exchange any and all information that will likely be relevant to the proceedings. This includes complete and accurate disclosures of your respective financial situations. If you and your spouse plan to divorce amicably, the exchange of information—known as "discovery"—should be fairly quick and easy, since most such information will be readily available. In more difficult cases, you may need to answer questions in writing (interrogatories) and give copies of various documents to your spouse—most often through your lawyers. The discovery phase of a divorce is necessary to facilitate decisions about marital property, maintenance, and other financial issues.

If you have children, you and your spouse will also be expected to create a proposal for sharing parental responsibilities. Each of you can submit a separate proposal or you can work together on a parenting plan that addresses your rights and responsibilities regarding your children. Your plan must include an outline of how parental responsibilities will be allocated, a schedule for parenting time, and other details required by law.

Negotiations, Settlements, and Trials

The vast majority of divorce cases in Illinois are resolved through settlement agreements. You and your spouse, along with your attorneys, are not only allowed to negotiate toward a settlement at any point during the proceedings but you are encouraged to do so. By reaching an agreement, you and your spouses could eliminate most of the remaining steps of the process. A proposed settlement must be fair, reasonable, and in compliance with state law in order to obtain the court's approval. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, your case will proceed to trial. At trial, each side will have equal opportunities to argue their case before a judge. The judge will then make decisions on only the matters that you and your spouse have not already resolved.

Call 630-407-1200 Today

The process of divorce can be difficult and time-consuming, and guidance from a qualified divorce lawyer can be invaluable. To learn more or for help getting started with your case, contact our office. Call 630-407-1200 and schedule your free consultation at McSwain Nagle Giese & Rapp, P.C. today. We serve clients in Wheaton, Naperville, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Winfield, Glendale Heights, Warrenville, DuPage County, Kane County, Kendall County, Cook County, and the surrounding areas.

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