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Naperville Family Law Attorney Explains the Divorce Process

What is the divorce process in Illinois?

Lawyer Assisting With the Different Stages of Divorce in Will County and DuPage County

The breakdown of your marriage can be a difficult time for everyone involved. However, once you have made the decision to get a divorce, you will want to be sure to understand the steps you should follow, the requirements you will need to meet, and the legal issues that must be addressed. 

One of the most important decisions you can make during the divorce process is choosing the right attorney to represent you. At the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C., we will take the time to get to know you and understand your needs and goals, and we will help you determine the best strategies for achieving success. With more than 35 years of combined experience, our attorneys can provide the quality representation you need, and we will work to help you reach a positive resolution to your divorce.

The Divorce Petition

The divorce process begins when one spouse, known as the petitioner, files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This petition will state that the parties' marriage has irretrievably broken down due to "irreconcilable differences," the only grounds for divorce available in Illinois. It will also identify the spouses and their children, provide any relevant factual information, and make requests for how certain divorce-related decisions should be handled. The petition will then be served to the other spouse, known as the respondent, by the county Sheriff's department or a licensed process server.

Within 30 days of being served with the divorce petition, the respondent is required to file an appearance with the court, and they may also file a response that addresses the petitioner's requests or makes requests of their own. Failure to file an appearance may result in a default judgment in which the judge grants the requests made by the petitioner.

Discovery and Disclosures

After the divorce process begins, both parties will make a full disclosure to each other of the income they earn, their marital and non-marital property, and the debts that they owe. If necessary, the parties and their attorneys may obtain information through written queries known as interrogatories or requests to produce documents. They may also conduct depositions to obtain witness testimony from the spouses or other parties. In some cases, subpoenas may be necessary to obtain financial information or other relevant evidence from employers, financial institutions, or other parties.

Status Hearings and Temporary Orders

While the spouses work to resolve the outstanding issues in their divorce, they may be required to regularly attend court hearings to update the judge about the status of the case. At any time during the divorce process, either party may file petitions for temporary relief in which they ask the judge to make decisions about how issues such as parenting time, child support, spousal support or possession of the marital home should be handled while the case is pending. The judge may issue temporary orders in response to these requests, and both parties will be required to follow these orders until the divorce has been finalized or until they are modified by subsequent temporary orders.

Creating a Divorce Settlement 

During the divorce process, spouses may attempt to reach an agreement on how to resolve the outstanding issues in their case. This may be done through negotiation, or by using methods of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or collaborative law. The final marital settlement agreement will address property issues and financial matters, including the division of marital property and spousal maintenance. If the couple has children together, their settlement must also include a parenting plan that addresses the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and any other issues related to parenting. The parties will then attend a prove-up hearing where the judge will approve the settlement, and the divorce will be finalized.

Divorce Trial

If the parties cannot reach an agreement on some or all of the matters involved in ending their marriage, a divorce trial may be necessary to resolve the outstanding issues. Before the trial begins, the parties' attorneys will attend a pre-trial conference with the judge to review the facts of the case. The judge may make recommendations for how to reach a settlement on the outstanding issues. If an agreement cannot be reached between the parties, the trial will be held, and both parties will present arguments for why the judge should rule in their favor. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will make a ruling on all outstanding issues, and a divorce judgment will be issued, finalizing the dissolution of the marriage.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C. can provide you with the legal help you need throughout every stage of the divorce process. We will work with you to determine the best way to resolve your issues either inside or outside the courtroom. To learn more about how we can help, contact us at 630-355-7776 or 815-722-7050 to schedule a free consultation. We represent clients throughout DuPage County, Will County, Kendall County, and Kane County, including Naperville, Plainfield, and Bolingbrook.

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