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Chicago Divorce Process

Chicago Divorce Lawyers Guiding You Through the Procedure for Dissolution of Marriage

A divorce can be amicable, emotional, trouble-free or exhausting. Every couple and every situation is different. But all divorce cases proceed along the same general lines, and certain matters must be settled in every divorce either in or out of court before the judge will grant a dissolution of marriage. Yet no matter what issues, challenges or difficulties might arise in your circumstances, the family law attorneys at Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC are here for you with practical advice, technical assistance, and effective advocacy to protect your rights and help you meet your goals. Learn more below about the process for divorce in Illinois, and if you or your spouse are considering filing for dissolution, contact our experienced Chicago divorce lawyers today.

Dissolution of Marriage in Illinois

The process for obtaining a divorce in Illinois begins with either spouse (or both spouses jointly) filing a petition for dissolution of marriage in the county court where either spouse resides. To be eligible for divorce in Illinois, at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state or had a military presence in the state for at least 90 days before filing the petition.

The petition for dissolution will set out the grounds for divorce and the relief sought by the filing party. All divorces in Illinois are no-fault; the only ground for divorce in Illinois is that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Before granting a divorce, the court must either find that efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family. The judge will normally be satisfied that this requirement has been met based on the papers filed by the parties, although if the issue is contested, the judge will hold a hearing to decide the matter. However, if the spouses have already been living separate and apart for six months, this creates an irrebuttable presumption of irreconcilable differences, and no hearing will be necessary.

Once the petition has been filed with the court and served on the other spouse, that party should file an answer to the petition contesting any matters in dispute. Without a response, the filing party could get a default judgment in their favor, assuming the court agrees the marriage is irretrievably broken.

The process continues with the parties preparing for an eventual trial on any issues connected to their divorce. This stage involves making financial disclosures, exchanging information, and otherwise gathering evidence, including consulting with experts as needed. The parties can meet any time during this period to negotiate a settlement instead of going to trial. The court might order conciliation or counseling to help the parties settle, or the parties might choose a process like mediation on their own initiative. If they can’t come to an agreement, the judge will decide all outstanding issues after holding an adversarial hearing between the parties.

No divorce will be granted until all of the following matters, if applicable, are dealt with, either as ordered or approved by the court:

  • The equitable distribution of marital property. The court will make a fair division of marital property based on factors like each party’s income, health, needs, and contributions to the marriage. Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC provides invaluable assistance in making sure marital property is properly characterized and accurately valued; our experienced divorce lawyers have particular expertise in dealing with high net worth assets, business interests and complicated property arrangements.
  • Alimony/maintenance. The court might order temporary or permanent spousal support based on each party’s income and needs, earning capacity, the time needed to become self-supporting, contributions one spouse made toward advancing the other’s career, and other factors. If you are seeking support or being asked to pay, we help ensure your needs are met and that you are treated fairly.
  • Child custody. The court can order the parents to share custody or grant sole custody to one parent and visitation to the other, based on the best interest of the child. We can help you work out a parenting plan and timesharing schedule that meets your needs and works for your family, or we’ll represent you in court if you can’t work out a plan with your co-parent.
  • Child support. Both parents are responsible for financially supporting their children post-divorce. The courts resort to the Illinois child support guidelines to determine a monthly amount one parent will pay to the other for child support, but the court can deviate from those guidelines when convinced it’s in the children’s best interests. We’ll make sure you and your co-parent are reporting income fully and accurately for a fair calculation and advocate for you if arguing for or against a deviation from the guidelines amount.

Contact Birnbaum Gelfman Sharma & Arnoux, LLC Today

Our Chicago family law firm helps business owners, professionals and executives and their spouses through all manner of dissolution procedures, including contested divorces, uncontested divorces, high net worth property divisions, or high conflict custody disputes. Our team is skilled in mediation, collaborative divorce, litigation and appeals, and we can help you determine the effect of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or advise you on the procedure for filing a joint petition for simplified dissolution. We have the expertise to expertly handle whatever your dissolution requires. Call our experienced Chicago divorce lawyers today for a consultation.

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