The end of a marriage is a stressful time for everyone involved. Recent statistics show that roughly half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce, and the rates are even higher for second and third marriages.
The outcome of a divorce can have a significant impact on both your parental rights and financial future. With such high stakes, you need a tough no nonsense attorney who will listen to you and be your strongest advocate.
During this difficult time, you can expect Jo Anne and her expert legal team to be there for you. They will guide you through the legal process to obtain judgments for the allocation of parental responsibilities and duties as well as parenting plans. Of great importance is protecting your rights and the interests of any minor children.
What is a divorce proceeding?
A divorce is the termination of a marriage by order of Court or other legal proceeding. Divorce (in Illinois referred to as Dissolution of Marriage) is essentially the same as matrimonial law. Matrimonial law is a more modern term used instead of divorce law, and is considered as part of the trend to make dissolutions of marriage less hostile.
Our family law attorneys work closely with our clients to explain how the court system works and what to expect.
This process is likely to have a great impact on your life and your future. Important questions to be answered for you are:
- a) What is likely to occur with my parenting time with the children?
- b) How will child support be calculated?
- c) What will financial situation resources be after the divorce?
- d) Will I receive a fair share of the marital assets?
- e) How will other important issues that are relevant to my divorce be resolved?
- f) How will issues such as the division of marital assets and debt, payment of child support and maintenance be determined?
For example, Illinois is an “equitable division” state when it comes to the division of marital property. This doesn’t mean that marital property and assets will be divided 50%-50%. Rather, “equitable division” means the court will take into consideration a number of factors when determining how marital assets should be divided.
Typically, the court considers the work experience of both spouses, their educational background, contributions to the marriage, health, and other factors. When one spouse is a lower income earner, that spouse may be entitled to 60% or 70% of the marital estate.
What is a contested divorce?
In a contested divorce the spouses cannot agree about getting divorced or about the particulars of the divorce, or both. They do not agree on issues such as division of assets, allocation of debts, maintenance, child support, parental responsibilities and a parenting plan.
The steps in a contested divorce include:
- Retain an Attorney. The legal process begins with a party retaining an attorney to proceed with a divorce.
- Divorce Petition Served on Spouse. Next, a petition for divorce is filed and served upon the other spouse. That spouse has thirty (30) days to respond to the petition.
- Discovery. This is the part of the process where spouses are able to obtain detailed information from each other about marital assets, income, custody and any other issues relevant to their case. This is done through written interrogatories, document requests, and depositions. During discovery, the spouses are able to request temporary orders for child support or maintenance from the courts.
- Settlement Discussions. Most Judges will encourage the parties to come to an agreement before proceeding to a trial. However, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, a Judge will make the decisions for them at a trial.
- During the trial, each side will be able to present witnesses and cross-examine the other side’s witnesses. The lawyers will make opening and closing arguments on their client’s behalf. A Judge will hear the trial and will make decisions regarding all issues. Then the Judge prepares a written final order. The length of time to prepare this order depends upon the Judge’s schedule and the complexities in the case. The divorce is not final until the Judge enters her order.
Often couples begin with a contested divorce with little or no agreement. Then before the actual trial, they reach agreement on the financial terms and all other issues in the divorce. Their agreement should be memorialized in a marital settlement agreement that is legally binding and enforceable.
Are there alternatives to a contested litigated divorce?
The simple answer is yes. But it depends upon the cooperation and desire of you and your spouse to reach an agreement. Otherwise, your controversy must be decided by the courts. The options include:
- An uncontested divorce, occurs when the spouses have reached agreement on all key issues. In particular, they have agreed to the division of assets and liabilities, and the payment of spousal maintenance and an allocation of parental responsibilities including a parenting plan and the payment of child support, if any.
In such cases, the spouses usually have reached these decisions before an attorney is hired. Then an attorney prepares the necessary agreements that the parties sign and a court date is set for a prove-up. The spouse who files the petition for divorce must appear at the prove-up, but the other spouse may also attend. After the Judge hears brief testimony, a Judgment of Dissolution is entered and the parties are divorced.
- A mediated divorce, is a voluntary process that spouses can choose that explores ways to resolve their family disputes with the assistance of a trained neutral mediator. They are expected to participate in good faith and fully share information. A mediator helps identify issues and discuss ways to resolve them. Frequently, the parties are assisted by their own attorneys in the mediation process.
The goal of mediation is to reach an agreement that is fair to both parties and also serves the best interests of any minor children through a process that reduces both the emotional and economic cost involved.
The legal team at Bruzgul & Associates are Attorneys bring their passion and years of experience to aggressively defend and protect your legal rights and interests. We are proven trial lawyers and will forcefully assert your rights. You can call us any time and we will answer your questions and address your concerns.
Know your rights and how best to protect them; contact us by sending us a message or calling us at 312-558-1850.