The day you walk down the aisle and say “I do” should be one of the happiest moments of your life. For couples who are splitting up, it’s a painful memory of what’s been lost. Whether it’s been a long time coming or this has taken you by surprise, hearing the words “I want a divorce” can be painful.
There may be a dozen questions running through your mind on what a divorce will look like and how you can cope with it. Rest assured, our attorneys at Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. are here to offer our counsel to those enduring a painful and emotional family matter such as divorce.
Illinois Divorce Process
Divorce can be one of life’s biggest challenges, and we understand that it may leave you feeling confused more than ever. To make this experience easier for you, we are here to break down the legal complexities that come with this process.
Step 1: Filing
As long as one of the spouses has lived in Illinois for the past 90 days, they may file for divorce. The divorce process begins when one spouse (the “Petitioner”) files a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” document and serves it to the other spouse (the “Respondent”). Typically, this document will include that one spouse has met the residency requirements, grounds for divorce, and additional information required by the state.
Step 2: The Temporary Relief Phase
This phase begins as soon as the Respondent is served a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Divorce can be a long and drawn-out process, sometimes lasting a year or two, especially when contested. Regardless, the mortgage must still be paid, the kids need to be taken care of, and all the other day-to-day tasks that make up your life must go on. Because of this, spouses may request temporary orders, such as child custody, child support, or spousal support while the case goes on.
Step 3: The Parenting Plan
If you and your spouse have kids together, it’s important to know that Illinois requires divorcing parents to submit a proposed parenting plan within 120 days of filing. If parents cannot agree on a single parenting plan, they will be required to attend mediation.
Step 4: The Discovery Phase
This phase is often one of the most crucial parts of a divorce. It’s a period in which both sides get to learn about the other side’s case and get a full-picture of marital assets. For many couples, both happily married and divorced, money can be a point of contention. Illinois requires marital property to be divided in an equitable and fair distribution, causing some spouses to hide money or assets.
Divorce attorneys and judges are all too familiar with these tactics, which are often revealed in the discovery process. Some tools of discovery include:
Depositions - Formal, question-and-answer sessions under oath.
Subpoenas - Formal, written demands from an attorney sent to anyone connected to the divorce case. They are commonly sent to obtain key financial documents.
Requests for Documents- This is a device used to obtain documents from the other party. It can include tax returns, bank statements, and other financial records. These documents can typically reveal whether or not a spouse is hiding assets.
Step 5: The Resolution Phase
This is usually where a divorce case will settle and both parties have agreed on issues such as property, debt, and spousal support. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the couple must go to trial. Most tend to avoid litigation because the outcome can be so unpredictable and outcomes are left in the hands of judges.
What to Do if Your Spouse Wants a Divorce
We understand that an unexpected divorce can take an emotional toll on an individual. During these times, it’s important to lean on a supportive group, not to make irrational decisions, and to seek the right legal counsel. In this stressful time, our lawyers at Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. can ensure that each client receives the personalized service they deserve.