Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Contemplating Divorce? What are the basic steps involved?

The steps to getting a divorce depend on each specific situation. For example, a couple who has been married for a short period of time, without kids and little property and debt should have a more simple divorce process than a couple who has been married for a longer time period, with kids (especially minors), and significant property and debt to divide. However, the simplicity of the divorce process also depends on if both parties want and agree to the divorce.

The divorce process varies depending on where you live. If you’re in Chicago, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for the last 90 days before you can be granted a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage according to Illinois law. In reference to child custody, the kids must have been Illinois residents for the past six months.

The divorce process in Illinois can be broken down into six steps:


The first step to getting a divorce in any situation is to file a petition. Even if both spouses agree to divorce, one party must file a petition with the court asking for the divorce, stating the grounds for the divorce and any other issues that need to be resolved.

Service of Process

Once a petition is filed, service of process occurs. This is a document that shows proof that a copy of the divorce petition was given to the other party. The party who files for divorce must also file proof of service of process. This step can me avoided if both spouses agree to the divorce. In that case, the non-filing spouse must file an “Appearance” form after the Petition is filed and pay the filing fee to willingly submit to the jurisdiction of the court.


The party who receives service of process has to file a response to the petition. The responding party may choose to dispute the grounds for the divorce stated in the petition or defend the grounds for the divorce. Any disagreements on property and debt divisions, child custody, support or other issues should be stated in the response.


Any issues both parties disagree on from the response need to be negotiated and resolved. If either party wishes to conduct discovery, the other party may be compelled to answer questions and/or produce documents related to the parties’ property, assets, debts and liabilities. There are also discovery requests that may pertain to custody if custody is in dispute. The most common forms of written discovery in divorce cases are Matrimonial Interrogatories, Notice to Produce Documents and Requests to Admit Facts. Oral discovery can also occur in the form of depositions if any parties or witnesses need to be examined under oath before trial. The court may schedule settlement conferences in an attempt to have both parties reconcile their issues. 


If both parties still cannot resolve any remaining issues between themselves after negotiation then a trial will decide the results. However trials are costly and time-consuming.  

Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage

The Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage completes the divorce process and explains how property and debt are divided as well as custody, support and other issues. If both parties resolve their issues and willingly comply with the outcome, they draft a proposed Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, submit it to the court and a judge approves it. If both parties do not agree on a resolution, the court will issue a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage at the end of the trial.   

Although filing a petition is the first step in any divorce process, every divorce is different, complex and difficult. If you are going through a divorce in Illinois, contact an Illinois divorce attorney or family lawyer to understand your options and assist you on your situation.

If you have any questions concerning a divorce, or if you need an attorney to fight for your best interests, feel free to call our Des Plaines law office at (847) 813-6011.

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