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The Illinois Divorce Process

Woodridge Divorce Lawyers

Dissolution of Marriage Lawyers in DuPage County

For many people, a divorce is the most complex legal matter that they will ever encounter. If you have never been involved in the legal system before, you may be feeling nervous and overwhelmed at the thought of even starting the process. At Goostree Law Group, our skilled divorce lawyers have more than 80 years of combined legal experience, and we can provide the guidance you need at every stage of your divorce.

Step One: Filing the Petition

According to Illinois law, a divorce is formally known as a dissolution of marriage. The process officially starts when one spouse—called the "petitioner"—files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the circuit court of the county where either of the spouses lives (with limited exceptions). A spouse can file for divorce in Illinois as long as at least one of the parties has resided in the state for at least 90 days, regardless of where the marriage took place. Once the petition is filed, a copy will be served on the other spouse—called the "respondent"—who will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations or requests made in the petition.

Step Two: Preparation and Temporary Orders

While the process legally starts with the filing of the petition, many couples begin discussing their divorce plans well in advance of filing. This allows them to determine whether either party will need temporary relief from the court. Temporary relief includes temporary orders for child support, parental responsibilities, spousal support (maintenance), and attorneys' fees. In more volatile cases, a judge can also approve temporary restraining orders to restrict destructive or dangerous behavior. Temporary orders are generally intended to remain in effect until they are replaced with a permanent order in the divorce judgment.

Step Three: Discovery and Exchanging Information

The next stage of the Illinois divorce process involves the exchange of relevant information, including full financial disclosures. In more amicable situations, discovery may be quite simple, as the spouses have already discussed their intentions for the divorce. In other cases, however, each party may be required to answer a series of questions called interrogatories and to provide documents to the other side, in addition to the completion of a financial affidavit to facilitate the division of marital assets.

If children are involved and no custody agreement has been reached, it is during this stage that a guardian ad litem may be requested by either party or appointed by the court. The guardian ad litem is responsible for making recommendations regarding a parenting plan that will protect the best interests of the children.

It is important to keep in mind that settlement negotiations are permitted at every stage of the process. In fact, you may be able to reach a workable agreement at any point, largely eliminating the need for the remaining steps.

Step Four: Trial, if Necessary, and Resolution

Once all of the relevant information is on the table, the two sides will usually begin working toward a settlement. A settlement that is equitable and in line with the applicable laws will be approved by the court and entered in the form of a judgment. If a settlement proves to be impossible to reach, the case will go to trial, and the parties must present their case to a judge. It will then be up to the judge to decide on the issues that have not been settled.

Call a Naperville Divorce Lawyer Today

At Goostree Law Group, we provide skilled representation throughout each phase of the divorce process. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation. Call 630-364-4046 for an appointment today. We serve clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Woodridge, Warrenville, Lisle, Aurora, and throughout DuPage County.

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