Divorce is a very challenging and multifaceted legal process, and each divorce case filed in Illinois unfolds differently. You are likely to face many challenges and unique opportunities as your dissolution proceeds through the family court in Springfield, IL, and the first steps you take in handling your divorce can have a profound influence on the outcome. There are many misconceptions about the divorce filing process in Illinois, and knowing what to expect can help you avoid common mistakes in divorce petition filing, sparing you more tedious proceedings later.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no legal advantage to being the spouse to file a divorce petition. While it’s possible to divorce your spouse and cite a specific cause, such as infidelity, incurable mental illness, or domestic violence, this isn’t necessary to file a divorce petition. Illinois recognizes “no fault” divorce, meaning the only legal requirement to divorce is to prove that your marriage has broken down beyond any hope of repair.
Once a divorce petition is filed, the other spouse has the chance to respond. If a divorcing couple has no children, shares minimal assets, and has not been married very long, they can secure a joint summary dissolution with a jointly signed uncontested divorce petition. However, these divorces are rare, and resolving your divorce is likely to be a more involved process.
Irreconcilable Differences vs. Divorce With Cause
Most divorces in Illinois are filed for the reason of “irreconcilable differences.” This blanket term is used to indicate that a couple’s relationship has deteriorated to an irretrievable degree, and neither spouse is willing to try any further attempts to reconcile. It is possible to divorce with cause or cite a specific reason for your divorce. However, this is only typically done when a spouse has committed some crime or poses a danger to themselves or others.
In the event you are divorcing your spouse because of illegal and/or morally reprehensible actions they have taken, you have the right to make their behavior known to the court as your reasoning for seeking divorce. However, it’s important to remember that unless your spouse did anything illegal, any actions they have taken against you on a personal level won’t factor into the court’s consideration in most cases. Domestic violence, gambling addiction, substance abuse disorders, and any criminal behavior will likely lead to further legal proceedings beyond your divorce.
Resolving Divorce in Illinois
Some couples in Springfield, IL develop prenuptial contracts for mutually ensured financial security. This is common for couples who control significant financial assets, but the reality is that any couple can have financial peace of mind in their marriage with a properly constructed and mutually agreeable prenuptial contract. If your spouse has violated the terms of your prenup or if anything has happened to cause the breakdown of your marriage while you have a prenup in place, the contract could essentially act as a roadmap for divorce proceedings, streamlining the process substantially.
If you do not have a prenuptial agreement with your spouse, or if your prenup is rendered unenforceable somehow, you still have options for resolving your divorce more easily than litigation would allow. Many Illinois couples take advantage of alternative dispute resolution to finalize their divorces, such as collaborative divorce and mediation. Even if you and your spouse have trouble agreeing on anything or civilly discussing aspects of your divorce, it’s still possible to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution with an attorney’s help. The only requirement is that both spouses must be willing to negotiate and try the process.
Ultimately, most divorces filed in Springfield, IL will require some level of litigation in family court. Even in an uncontested divorce, a judge will want to hear from the spouses and review the terms of their divorce order, providing the opportunity to address any last-minute issues before the divorce order is finalized. Some couples can negotiate some aspects of their divorce privately and must resolve outstanding issues in litigation. Others go straight to the courtroom to settle their divorces, facing months of protracted proceedings in a case in which the judge has the final say.
Q: What Needs to Be Settled in a Springfield, IL Divorce?
A: Divorce is not just the ending of a marriage contract; it is also the legal process of dividing ownership of the couple’s shared marital property. Illinois uses the law of equitable distribution to handle these issues. The divorcing couple will also need to resolve child support and child custody if they have children together, and couples who control substantial assets are likely to face more complex and time-consuming divorce proceedings.
Q: How Long Does a Springfield, IL Divorce Take to Complete?
A: In an uncontested divorce approved by a Springfield family court judge, it’s possible to finalize the case in a matter of weeks. However, most divorces filed in Springfield, IL entail a measure of contention, and it can potentially take several months to more than a year before a divorce is finalized. Your attorney can provide an estimate of what to expect with your proceedings.
Q: Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for a Divorce in Springfield, IL?
A: While you are not legally required to do so, hiring a Springfield, IL divorce lawyer is the best way to secure a favorable outcome for your dissolution proceedings. The right attorney can streamline your divorce significantly, ultimately saving you time and money even after taking the cost of hiring them into account. You are far more likely to reach a positive result for your divorce with an experienced attorney’s counsel.
Q: How Much Does a Springfield, IL Divorce Attorney Cost to Hire?
A: Some family law attorneys offer flat fee pricing for specific legal services, and many charge their clients hourly for time spent working on their cases. Take time to carefully review a potential attorney’s billing policy, so there are no surprises when it comes to the cost of hiring them.
It’s natural to have lots of questions about what you can expect in your upcoming divorce in Springfield. Find an experienced divorce attorney you can trust as soon as possible so they can address your concerns and start working on your case.