After a lot of reflecting, you’re considering the major decision to get a divorce. Because each state’s laws vary, you need to know how to best protect yourself as you begin this extremely daunting journey.
In Illinois, a divorce is called a dissolution of marriage, which will always accomplish two things:
1: Severing the marital relationship.
2: Dividing assets and debts.
If one person is unable to be self-supporting post- divorce, the issue of alimony may also arise. If there are children involved, child custody, support and parenting time will need to be resolved.
Knowing how to get divorced isn’t something most of us know how to do until we absolutely have to do it. If you’re considering a split, knowledge is power. To that end, we’ve laid out the process of getting divorced in Illinois, one step at a time.
Step 1: Do you NEED to get a divorce?
The first step is to try everything else possible. Including couples counseling, therapy groups, mediation, even a getaway together to truly decide if the separation is what you both want. While everything in the heat of the moment seems unfixable, you should explore every other possible option before deciding on ending a marriage.
You may think that things have deteriorated too far in your marriage to be able to save it, and that a divorce is your only option. Asides for cases involving physical or emotional abuse, there could be hope.
Step 2: Educate Yourself
So, you’ve decided separation is the only option. Not only should you emotionally prepare for what is to come, a smart move is to get the right legal advice right away.
Choosing a knowledgeable end experienced family law attorney will help you determine the full scope of your marital estate, search for hidden assets, and develop your settlement strategy before you pull the trigger. Your attorney can also walk you through different settlement approaches.
Step 3: Choose a Separation Process
Many individuals considering divorce are not aware of the fact that there are different approaches or processes to obtaining a divorce. In Illinois the main types of separation include:
- Contested Divorce: The “contested divorce” is the type in which the spouses cannot arrive at an agreement on one or more key issues in order to conclusively terminate their marriage.
- Uncontested Divorce: this is where both spouses agree on all issues concerning the divorce, including but not limited to the division of marital property and debts, (parental allocation) child custody, child support, and spousal support (“maintenance”).
- Divorce Mediation: this is where you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, the mediator, and with their help, you work through the issues you need to resolve so the two of you can end your marriage as amicably and cost effective as possible.
- Legal separation: For individuals with religious concerns or insurance issues who may be discourage from seeking a formal divorce a legal separation could be the preferred course of action.
Step 4: Start Obtaining Paperwork
Divorce = paperwork. And a lot of it. At the same time, collecting, sorting, and organizing financial documents is nothing short of hell for most people. The sooner you can start collecting and organizing your financial paperwork, the more smoothly your divorce process is likely to go.
It’s also worth noting your ex-partner could begin hiding assets at this stage through bitterness and resentment. Therefore, obtaining all the information as quickly as possible is highly recommended.
Step 5: File the Paperwork
In order to file for dissolution of marriage in Illinois, either you or your spouse must be a resident of Illinois for at least 90 days. You and your spouse also need to have been separated for at least two years. You may file in the Circuit Court in the county where either of you live.
Work closely with your family law attorney during this stage. As well as the divorce filing, you may have to issue temporary orders such as temporary spousal and child support and custody orders. This will all depend on the facts of your case, as each case presents a unique set of facts for the court to consider.
After stages 1-5 are complete, your petition will either go to trial, or reach a settlement out of a court, depending on your individual case details and whether you and your ex were able to reach such an agreement.
Divorce is frightening and can be overwhelming. But when you break it down into small, manageable steps, like those outlined above, it becomes somewhat “do-able”.
Sometimes the length of the Illinois divorce process simply comes down to how well you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse communicate, but by knowing how divorce works – and what you’ll need to do first – can help you move forward with confidence.
Divorce Services from Masters Law Group
Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation and that our clients want to move on with their lives. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients assurance and wellbeing in mind.
Whether you are facing a contested divorce, uncontested divorce, or civil union divorce, our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most.
Divorce cases involving substantial assets or complex estates require specialized knowledge. Masters Law Group is skilled at identifying and valuing assets and wealth, including real estate, securities, business interests, retirement funds, pension plans, tax shelters (domestic and foreign), overseas accounts, stock options, trusts and other actual or potential sources of wealth.