Illinois Divorce Steps
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Illinois is a state where residency requirement for filing for a divorce is six months. That means either of the partners should be a resident of Illinois for at least six months before filing a divorce. Also, the county court where a divorce application is to made, requires an applicant to be a resident of that county for at least three months. Illinois divorce steps may vary according to the nature of divorce and conditions between partners.
Illinois Divorce Steps can be categorized into 6 steps as follows:
- Filing the Petition
- Serving the divorce documents
- Filing the Response
- Financial Investigation, negotiation, settlement
- Pretrial Conference
Illinois Divorce Steps in a nutshell
- The divorce process starts when a person files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This person is termed as the Petitioner or Plaintiff. The spouse of this person is called as the Respondent or Defendant. In a mutual divorce, a petition is filed by spouses together The Petition is a public record. It is two to three pages long and comprises of basic data regarding the divorcing partners and their children. It does not have considerable personal data
- The Petition and the Summons are served to the Respondent. The Sheriff in the county or private process servers are given the responsibility of the service.
- The person is allocated the task of service usually arranges a meeting in a private and convenient spot to avoid any embarrassment for the Respondent.
- In case there is a past record of substance abuse or domestic violence, it is recommended that the person is allocated the task of service, uses the services of law enforcement personnel during this process.
- The Respondent is allocated thirty days within which he or she should file a written Response.
- If the Respondent does not file a Response within thirty days, the Petitioner should request the court to declare a default judgment.
- If the Respondent files an Answer, the lawyers of the divorcing parties discuss with each other whether there is a requirement of temporary support.
- Temporary support orders are brought into force by order of court post a full hearing or by agreement of counsel.
- Financial Investigation is another term for Discovery. This comprises of processes like review of financial documents by accounting experts, interrogatories, subpoenas and depositions. At this stage, an applicant and a spouse have to submit all financial statements regarding assets and liabilities in the court. It is also known as a disclosure stage in some states.
- If the debts and assets of the divorcing partners can be easily ascertained and both partners accede with each other regarding this issue, then, they might waive the discovery process.
- If an agreement is reached regarding the marital estate determined above, the lawyers draft a Marital Settlement Agreement. Both partners review and sign it by consulting their lawyers if they have approached for a legal help.
- This Agreement and a proposed Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage are presented to the court.
- The court confirms that the above mentioned documents are equitable after studying them and enters a final Divorce Decree. If this procedure is followed, the partners have to appear in a court only once.
- An identical process to reach an agreement regarding other issues of the divorce is conducted. However, if the parties fail to reach this agreement, the below mentioned process is observed.
- The lawyers of the divorcing partners present the issues (regarding which agreement has failed) to the Judge in the chambers of the Judge. This is called as a Pretrial Conference.
- The judge offers pretrial recommendations that are not compulsory for the partners. However, they provide an idea regarding how the judge intends to solve the case. Sometimes, partners are suggested to go for a mediation process where new solution can be found with the help of mediator.
- When a pretrial conference fails, the only solution is to undergo a trial. The divorcing partners need to wait approximately five to six months to be allotted a trial date.
- Preparation for trial comprises of the following:
- Review of discovery
- Taking depositions
- Review of reports by experts
- Interviews of potential witnesses
- Preparation of exhibits
- Depending on the complexity and nature of the issues, the trial phase may extend to several weeks. When this phase concludes, the judge enters a final divorce judgment.
Illinois divorce steps are to be carried out by every couple with a legal advice. There are many options available for a professional help to obtain an easy and quick divorce. Some support groups help the persons to fulfill all requirements and to come out of a divorce as early as possible. Hence, an applicant can make use of such services during a divorce process.