When someone decides they no longer wish to remain married to their spouse or when a couple reaches a mutual decision to end their marriage, the couple must brace for divorce proceedings. In Springfield, IL, divorce unfolds in the family court system, and knowing what to expect in the dissolution process is important. Divorce is much more than simply ending your marriage contract with your spouse. The two of you must also resolve property division and outstanding financial matters that apply to you. In addition, when a divorcing couple has children, they face a difficult custody determination process.

Ultimately, every divorce is a multifaceted legal matter, and the results can impact the lives of spouses in various ways for years to come. If you are heading for divorce in Springfield, IL, it’s understandable to wonder whether you should hire an attorney. Many people assume legal representation to be prohibitively expensive, or they may make the mistake of believing they can handle their divorce proceedings unassisted.

It’s true that any divorce can be expensive, and the more time an attorney spends working on a case, the more it costs the client. However, experienced legal counsel is the best asset you can have to minimize the negative long-term impact the financial aspects of your divorce could have on your life. At the conclusion of your case, you’re likely to realize that your decision to hire legal representation was well worth the investment.

Statutory Rules for Divorce in Illinois

Divorce is a more complex legal process than many realize. In Illinois, the state does not require a spouse to cite a specific cause or reason for filing for divorce. Almost all divorces are processed for the reason of “irreconcilable differences.” This is a blanket term used to define any marriage that has broken down beyond any hope of reconciliation. Illinois law requires a couple to prove grounds or that their marriage has broken down for six months or longer. Alternatively, the couple may physically separate for six months, after which they may file their divorce petition.

It does not matter which spouse files the divorce petition; being the first to file offers no legal advantage, contrary to popular belief. After one spouse has submitted a divorce petition, the case could proceed in either a “contested” or “uncontested” state. Uncontested divorces are very rare. This type of divorce indicates no disagreements between spouses regarding the terms of their divorce. In other words, the couple prepares a divorce petition that clearly outlines their expectations and signs off with no contest. Most divorces in Illinois are contested.

A contested divorce must move to an uncontested state before it can be finalized, and the time required to accomplish this entirely depends on the divorcing spouses’ willingness to compromise. Many divorcing couples across the United States are taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution to streamline their divorces and save money on legal fees. It’s even possible to use alternative dispute resolution to partially resolve divorce terms, taking any outstanding issues before a family court judge to resolve in litigation.

What to Expect From Your Attorney

Divorce is likely to impact your life in several ways, especially when it comes to your finances and your relationships with your immediate family. Hiring the right attorney allows you to approach your divorce with more confidence. In addition, when you have pressing legal questions or important concerns about the direction of your case, a good attorney can provide responsive guidance and support so you fully understand your legal options.

Most divorce attorneys in Springfield, IL, encourage their clients to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution before moving to family court to finalize their divorces. Alternative dispute resolution can help both parties save time and money in the divorce. Of course, you will need legal counsel to guide you through collaborative divorce sessions or mediation, but you will be far more likely to reach more agreeable terms than you could expect from a family court judge.

One of the most important services a good divorce attorney can provide is facilitating effective communication between their client and the other spouse. Some divorcing couples have trouble discussing anything, let alone civilly negotiating terms for the divorce without conflict. Having legal representation assist you in your negotiations will help you approach the situation more objectively and with reassurance. Your attorney will ensure you reach the best possible results in your proceedings.

How Long Will My Divorce Take?

Finalizing your divorce is likely to feel like the first step in the next chapter of your life, and most newly divorced people experience a mix of strong emotions near the end of their dissolution proceedings. It’s natural to wonder how long your divorce is going to take to conclude, and your lawyer can be incredibly helpful in this regard. They can help you take full advantage of alternative dispute resolution so you and your spouse can quickly resolve the issues on which you agree most.

Regarding the more contentious aspects of your divorce, your attorney’s counsel will also be invaluable. They can help you negotiate more effectively, and once you have exhausted all options for privately resolving your divorce terms, they can represent you in litigation. In a hotly contested divorce in which private settlement isn’t a realistic option, divorce can take several months or even more than a year.

If you are concerned about streamlining your divorce as much as possible, saving money on legal fees, and taking full advantage of your legal options for exercising control over your divorce terms, hiring legal representation is the best way to accomplish these goals. Your lawyer can provide invaluable insights that allow you to approach your divorce with a clearer understanding of its long-term implications. When you account for all the future stress and expense a good attorney can save you, it’s easy to see why it is so crucial to invest in legal counsel you can trust. Reach out to an experienced Springfield, IL, divorce attorney once you’re certain that dissolution is in your near future to have the best experience possible in this difficult situation.