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Divorce Litigation in Illinois

Sometimes finding common ground on the future can't be done. In those times, a litigation attorney is there to make sure you get the support you deserve.
This is right for you if…

…when communication between you and your spouse has broken down, and you can't reach an agreement on certain issues such as child custody and placement, alimony, child support, dividing assets, debts, retirement accounts or real estate….when mental health, domestic violence or substance abuse has become an issue, litigation may be a good option to protect yourself.

What's included when you hire Sterling Lawyers

  • Clarity. You will never be left out of the loop. Every step of the process and your rights under the law will be fully explained to you.
  • Direction. You will get clear direction from your attorney and guidance based on what you are asking the court to give you.
  • Support. Divorce is never easy and handling the emotions that rise up in a divorce can be a daunting task. We will be there to support and help you better face the challenges ahead.
  • Privacy. You will get the security of attorney-client privilege so all information shared is protected.
  • Everything Else.
    • Preparing your petition for divorce (court filing fee included)
    • Serving the other party divorce papers (process server fee included)
    • Complete all necessary forms with your help
    • Drafting settlement agreements
    • Filing all forms and documents
    • Completing your final divorce decree
    • Attending court hearings when required

What are the benefits of divorce litigation?

  1. When domestic violence or substance abuse has factored into the relationship, litigation can help safeguard you and your children
  2. Establish and maintain your rights as well as your financial future during high-conflict cases.
  3. Stop deception before it starts by ensuring a manipulative spouse can't pull the wool over your eyes.
  4. Get the peace of mind that only comes from having an experienced litigation attorney in your corner

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!

How Divorce Litigation Works in Illinois

Step 1: File the Action with the Court

The first step is filing a petition for dissolution of marriage (divorce) with the court. This is a document highlighting the basic facts about you and your spouse, along with the reasons for your divorce.

Step 2: Serve the Other Party

The second step in the process is to serve the other party. This is done by a legally appointed process server such as a sheriff's office to make sure without a doubt the other spouse is aware they've been taken to court. Once service is complete an affidavit of service must be given to the court to verify the other party was given proper notice. The party being served will have 30 days formally respond.

Step 3: Automatic Dissolution Action Stay and Temporary Orders (if needed)

Once the initial petition is filed with a court, a stay automatically goes into effect, stopping them from harming or harassing their spouse both physically and financially. It also prohibits the spouse from removing any children from the state.

If deemed necessary with a high-conflict spouse, a temporary order, such as a restraining order or an order to freeze joint bank accounts, may be filed so that both parties can continue living normally during the process. These also include orders that maintain the “status quo”, so for instance, if your spouse was paying the bills before the divorce, the judge may temporarily order that arrangement continue for the duration of the case.

Step 4: Complete Co-Parenting Classes and Co-Parenting Plans (when children are involved)

In the state of Illinois, when children are involved in a divorce the parents will be ordered to take co-parenting classes and create a parenting plan. Both will happen relatively quickly after the process starts (within the first three or four months). The parenting plan, done either together with your spouse or separately will lay out the proposed schedule and responsibilities of both parties to their children. In the cases where a parenting plan can't be agreed upon by both parties, the court will make you mediate with your spouse to come to an agreement.

Step 5: Request a Settlement Conference Date

A settlement conference provides an opportunity for both sides to come to an agreement on the major issues without going to trial. This is highly encouraged as it gives you and your spouse a chance to hash out your major disagreements outside of a courtroom. The judge will periodically check in on the status of your case and settlement, and see if the case will be going to trial.

Step 6: Complete the Marital Settlement Agreement or Request a Trial Date

The goal of every divorce is to reach an agreement on what happens next in your life, and ideally, every case would settle before going to trial. However, when this is no longer an option due to one or both party's unwillingness to find a compromise, a trial will be scheduled.

This will involve a pre-trial conference to figure out the timing and logistics involved in your case. Once the trial starts, the judge will hear from both parties based on their unresolved issues like child support or dividing up property and make a judgment accordingly. It should be noted 95% of family cases do not go to trial as judges prefer to allow parties to find a compromise instead of picking winners and losers.

Step 7: Complete & Submit the Final Divorce Decree

Once an agreement has been reached or a judge has weighed in making the decision for the parties a final divorce decree must be submitted to the court and signed by the judge to make the divorce official. Without the divorce decree under the law, you will still be viewed as a married.

Step 8: Complete QDRO Process to Legally Separate Assets & Debts

After the final divorce decree is signed by the judge the QDRO process may begin to legally separate your assets and debts. This process is important as it allows for retirement accounts, credit card accounts, real estate, and all other financial obligations to be separated and reallocated without penalties or taxes.

Are you ready to move forward? Call (312) 757-8082 to schedule a strategy session with one of our attorneys.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is divorce mediation better than divorce litigation?

Mediation has its benefits but it isn’t for everyone. In situations of abuse or when you cannot trust the other party, mediation is not a good idea. If you do think you can work with the other party, then mediation is a great option. It often goes faster and costs less money.

How long does a contested divorce take in Illinois?

A contested divorce usually takes around a year. Eventually, if parties cannot agree, the court decides for you. What takes the longest is if the divorce has to go all the way to the trial stage.

What happens when a divorce goes to trial in Illinois?

The trial is the last stage in a divorce. In a trial, each party’s attorney presents evidence, calls witnesses, and works to prove that their side is correct. It is done in the courtroom and can take one or two days.

Who pays attorney fees in divorce in Illinois?

Each party pays for their own attorney's fees. In rare circumstances, one party is required to pay for the other party’s attorney fees. However, the attorney fees can also come out of the marital estate. This is especially important for people who otherwise couldn’t pay for an attorney on their own.

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