Getting married is one of the highlights of one’s life. It is generally filled with promise and excitement and leads to the building of a stronger life for the parties involved. Unfortunately, many marriages in the U.S. fail and end in divorce. The reasons for divorce are many, ranging from money problems to poor communication, lack of maturity, unrealistic expectations, infidelity, growing apart, and more. Some couples survive these problems but many do not.
When divorce looms on the horizon, it generally brings with it many questions, especially for first-timers. Understanding the basics in any process to which you are a party is always a good idea. In this blog, we will answer common questions that often arise when you are contemplating or have already decided to divorce.
Basic Questions About Divorce
How is a divorce started?
In the state of Illinois, divorce is officially called “dissolution of marriage.” The divorce process is started by filing a written request with the court called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you are the one to file it, you will be called the “plaintiff” and your spouse will be the “defendant.” This along with other forms will be filed with the county clerk. After your paperwork is filed, you will be required to “serve” your spouse with the documents as he or she is a party to the legal action. This can be done with a private process server, the sheriff’s office, or a third party who is at least 18 years old. Once your spouse receives the legal forms, he or she has the right to respond to the action. What happens next will depend on how your spouse responds. If he or she is in agreement with the divorce, the action will likely take less time. If he or she is not in agreement, it is what is called “contested.” Or he or she may not reply.
What are the residency requirements to file for a divorce in Chicago?
To file for a divorce in Chicago, you must have been a resident of Illinois for at least 90 days. You also must be a resident of the county where you are filing. If you have children, they must have lived in Illinois for at least six months prior to your filing with the court.
How long does a divorce take?
The length of time that the process will take will depend on the unique circumstances of the case. Many issues will need to be settled in a divorce unless these issues do not apply. For instance, if the couple has children, many marital assets and debt, and other complications, the process will obviously take longer. A couple who has only been married a short time who have no children and little in the way of property and who are in agreement about getting divorced will have a much shorter process.
Even with many issues to resolve, couples who can agree on settlement terms will make for a faster process. When litigation is involved, the process then becomes subject to many court hearings on the schedule of the court. Disagreement and an inability to compromise lead to lengthier divorces.
What’s a divorce going to cost me?
Once again, that answer depends on how complicated your divorce becomes. No-fault divorces where the parties are in agreement can be accomplished in less time and often without court intervention. Some costs in the divorce are fixed, such as filing fees and process server fees. Other fees are variable and will depend on how much litigation is involved. Variable fees can include preparation of documents, legal representation, the cost of mediation, and the cost of any needed experts, such as financial experts, child therapists, property appraisers, etc.
Have Other Questions? Talk to an Attorney.
The above are just some of the general answers to common questions. You will likely have questions specific to your case, which is why it is best to consult an attorney. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., we can educate and enlighten you further about your case, what to expect, and how best to approach the coming weeks. With years of experience, our firm stands poised to bring you competent, respectful, and compassionate legal help with the goal of serving your best interests.