I Want To Get A Divorce; Where Do I Begin?
One of the first and most important decisions you will make about your divorce is who you will hire as your attorney. Your attorney not only represents you in court but will also guide you through the entire process. Your attorney will set the tone for the divorce and can have a lot of influence on the expense and the outcome. It is important that you select not only a skilled attorney but also one that understands your desired outcomes, both financial and emotional. Remember that your attorney works for you, and even though the attorney is the one that knows the law, you should interview them as you would anyone else that was going to work for you.
Are There Any Benefits to Initiating the Divorce Process in Illinois?
Yes! The Petitioner, the person who files for divorce first, writes the petition for divorce. The petition is what states the grounds for divorce and makes the first request for the division of money, property, and debts. If you have children, the petitioner also gets to make the first request for custody, visitation, and who gets to make parenting decisions after the divorce is final. The petitioner also gets to go first if the case proceeds to trial, which can give him or her a significant advantage. Also, the petitioner’s attorney is the one who usually drafts all the essential documents throughout the case, not just the initial petition, and this can give them the chance to prepare the documents in their favor. Regardless of who files for divorce, the divorce is granted to both parties.
Is There Any Period of A Required Separation in Illinois Before Being Granted A Divorce?
Yes. In Illinois, you must be living separate and apart, and not as husband and wife, for at least six months before the divorce is granted. This doesn’t mean that you have to live in separate houses before the divorce is final, and you aren’t required to show any proof that you’re not living as husband and wife. You will both have to make what is called an assertion or affirmation that you have not been living as husband and wife. This is usually done through paperwork and not necessarily by an actual verbal statement in court.
How Does the Divorce Process Work in Illinois?
There are several ways that a divorce can proceed in Illinois. There is the traditional course of “suing” for divorce in court. You and your attorney work together with your spouse and their attorney (if they have one) to decide all the relevant issues through negotiation, and if there’s anything you can’t agree on, a judge will make the final decisions, either after review of documents or after a trial. There is also mediation and collaborative law. Mediation involves a neutral third-party that helps you and your spouse, either working with you alone or with you and your attorneys. This method can allow you to reach agreement on all the issues without going through the court system. Collaborative law is a team approach. Like mediation, it is done outside of the court system. But unlike mediation, instead of working with just one third party, collaborative law involves multiple professionals that work for the benefit of the family’s needs. You might have an accountant or financial planner that helps you work through financial separations, a social worker or psychologist that helps you work through issues regarding the children, a real estate professional if you have significant real estate holdings, and other professionals that meet your particular needs. Your attorneys will be part of the process as well, and will act as your quarterback, leading the collaborative team through the process.
Choosing the type of proceeding depends on the circumstances. Mediation and collaborative law are great options if it coincides with the family’s structure, your needs, and your desired outcomes. You will need an attorney to discuss the intricacies of your family’s particular circumstances and recommend the process that will work best for you. For instance, factors such as the complexity of your money and property, mental health issues, children, and custody plans are all elements that should be considered when deciding the type of process that will work best for you.
Can I Make a Change After My Divorce Has Been Finalized?
You (or your former spouse) may seek a modification of their child support or alimony (also known as maintenance or spousal support) if there are substantial changes in circumstances, such as a large increase or decrease in your or your former spouse’s income. A modification may also be appropriate if there are changes in the family dynamics that effect custody, visitation, a child’s health or wellbeing, or if a child is in danger. The courts usually require a substantial change in circumstances to modify a custody, visitation or financial arrangement. For instance, if you were paying child support and lost your job and haven’t been able to find a new job for several months that may be considered substantial.
For more information on the Divorce Process in The State of Illinois, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (847) 234-4445 for your free consultation today.
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