Regardless of the reasons you are considering divorce, the divorce process can feel overwhelming. It’s natural to have a lot of questions and wonder what to expect. Below we share answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the divorce process in Illinois to ease your mind and help you move forward.
I want to get divorced. Do I need my spouse’s permission?
You do not need permission to seek a divorce. Divorce in Illinois only requires irreconcilable differences and a six-month separation. There is no longer a need to show “fault.”
Anyone can seek a divorce anytime if there are irreconcilable differences and a six-month separation. However, an agreement does make the process quicker and easier.
What do I do first if I want to get a divorce?
If your spouse will be using a lawyer, it will be hard for you to do your divorce case yourself. Your first step should be to hire a lawyer that only works in the field of divorce. You do not want a lawyer who is doing real estate closings, medical malpractice, and preparing wills in addition to a divorce. This area of divorce is a specialized field, and you will want a lawyer that does divorce law all the time, not just part-time. Your divorce lawyer needs to be in court every day so that the judges know and trust your attorney. This is the most critical step of the process, and you want to choose an advocate that is immersed in this field.
What will my divorce attorney do first?
Our firm will always try and see what can be settled between the parties. Our attorneys will attempt to settle as much of the case as possible by agreement, and with your input, determine what issues remain unresolved. This will save you money and shorten your case. We will determine what you are legally entitled to and counsel you as to the likely scenarios you will be facing with the judge. Your participation in the strategy of your case is important and you will be a part of the team that determines the issues and how to best obtain your desired result.
Once we know exactly which direction we are headed in, then the Petition for Dissolution is drafted. If your spouse will accept service voluntarily, that will shorten the process as well, and allow us to speak directly to the other attorney to work out some agreed upon items that will be important to both of you.
How do children affect divorce proceedings?
If you have children, the court and Illinois law requires two initial items to be completed by both parties before progressing on to the rest of your case. All parents of minor children involved in any action involving custody or visitation are required to complete a court-authorized parent education program. Such actions include modification of custody or visitation or if moving with a child or children from Illinois. Children in Between is an online class that is accepted throughout the state as an online parenting class.
Resolving Parenting Issues Through Mediation
The other requirement is mediation to resolve parenting issues. A mediator will not be an attorney for either party and will try to obtain an agreement between the parties regarding parenting time and parenting responsibilities. The mediator will issue a report regarding what items were agreed, and also let the court know what was not agreed upon.
What happens if mediation is unsuccessful?
The court will likely appoint a GAL – a guardian ad litem – or a child’s representative for your child if you cannot reach an agreement in mediation. This person is typically another family lawyer that the court knows and respects, so your child’s attorney will carry a lot of weight with the court. It is critical that you discuss this process with your lawyer so you know what to expect, before meeting with your child’s guardian. Many times, the court will favor the guardian’s opinion since the guardian or child’s representative is acting in your child’s best interest, and not in the best interest of either parent.
The Court strives to resolve parenting issues before moving on to other aspects of your divorce.
There is an emphasis on completing the parenting agreement first, which is called an allocation judgment. The allocation judgment used to be called a parenting agreement, where sole or joint custody was decided. Illinois no longer assigns either party an award of custody-joint or sole. Illinois now only has Allocation Judgments, which determine the division of parenting time and responsibilities.
Your allocation judgment will determine the day-to-day parenting time, along with a holiday schedule. There will also be details regarding a division of the parenting responsibilities as well. Once you have resolved the parenting schedule and entered an Allocation Judgment, the court will focus on the financial issues in your case.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Chicago?
It depends on the amount of conflict. The Illinois Supreme Court mandates that the Allocation Judgments be entered within 18 months, but depending on the amount of conflict, that date is not always feasible. Divorces without children would hopefully be finalized in a shorter time, but the time frame to obtain your judgment in a divorce case depends on high the conflict is and how many issues need to be resolved. Sometimes experts are needed for evaluations and having an expert on the case will typically increase the time your case will need to be finalized.
How much will a divorce cost me?
Again, it depends. The less conflict that needs to be resolved will result in a shorter period to resolve the case, which makes your case less expensive. We take the approach in your case to do a cost-benefit analysis, in hopes of resolving at least some of the issues. You are not going to trial on minor issues. Those will be settled. The faster you can present your issues to the court, the faster and less expensive it will be.
Hiring an attorney may seem expensive at first, but a seasoned domestic relations attorney can actually save you money, since handling your case efficiently resolves the case quicker.
Schedule a Consultation with our Chicago Divorce Attorneys
If you are considering divorce in Chicago, speaking with an experienced divorce attorney will give you the peace of mind you need to move forward. Schedule your consultation to see how our legal team of skilled Chicago divorce attorneys can assist you with your family law needs. Contact us today to get started.