The Divorce Process In Illinois
In Illinois, the divorce process generally proceeds in a regular and predictable manner. However, how long the process takes depends on the particular circumstances of the case, the attitudes of the parties and other factors.
At Lake Toback DiDomenico in Chicago, we take a disciplined approach to divorce representation. Whenever possible, we try to achieve a dissolution of marriage in an efficient and timely manner. We are prepared, however, to conduct aggressive litigation when necessary.
Your situation is unique and requires thorough investigation and analysis by an experienced lawyer. To schedule a consultation about a divorce or related matter, call us at 312-288-8985. We serve clients throughout the Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois, including Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County and McHenry County.
The Illinois Divorce Process
For the benefit of potential clients, we present an overview of the divorce process in Illinois. Cases involving complex property division or contested custody issues or other matters requiring research and investigation may take longer and entail steps in addition to those listed below.
Petition — The first step in getting a divorce in Illinois is the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This describes several facts about the marriage but does not go into much detail. The petition must state the grounds for the divorce, either fault or no-fault, though most petitions are no-fault. This spares the parties from having to reveal sensitive information in public. The petitions also must include the names of the parties, the identity of the children, the date of marriage, the residency of the parties and similar non-sensitive information. In certain instances such as where an injunction is requested, more detailed information may be required.
Service — The respondent must be served with the Petition and a Summons to Appear. This can be accomplished discreetly and privately. If both parties have discussed the divorce and agree to pursue the divorce, service can be made to the lawyer for the respondent. In marriages where there has been a history of domestic violence or where the potential for violence exists, service can be made by a sheriff’s deputy or private process server.
Response — The respondent has 30 days to file a response. If this is not done, the petitioner can ask the court to enter a default judgment. It is important for the respondent to retain an experienced attorney. Once this is done, the parties’ attorneys can discuss the need for temporary spousal maintenance and child support and other temporary issues such as temporary visitation.
Investigation and settlement negotiation — The parties’ attorneys will analyze the issues relating to property division and finances, custody and visitation, spousal maintenance and child support. This can be time-consuming, particularly in cases involving ownership of businesses, hidden assets and other complex financial matters. If both parties appear amenable, the attorneys can attempt to negotiate a settlement. When this has been accomplished, a court hearing is held where the judge reviews the proposed settlement to make sure the terms are equitable. Once this is done the judge will enter the divorce decree and issue orders involving property, maintenance, child support and child custody and visitation.
Pretrial conference — If the parties cannot agree regarding certain issues, a pretrial conference will be held. The judge will make recommendations regarding a potential settlement, which the parties can accept or reject.
Trial — If no agreement can be reached on the outstanding issues, a trial date will be set and the parties’ attorneys will prepare for trial.