In 2017, Illinois instituted no-fault divorce across the state, and as a result, divorcing couples are no longer required to prove that one of the parties was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage in order to obtain a divorce. While this significantly simplifies the divorce process, it does not eliminate the need for couples to make decisions regarding asset division, alimony, and parenting time arrangements. For help coming to an out-of-court agreement with your spouse on these and other divorce-related legal issues, please contact a dedicated Lake Forest divorce attorney who has the experience and resources to aggressively represent your interests, whether during negotiations or in the courtroom.
Filing for Divorce
Once a couple decides to dissolve their marriage, they must take a series of procedural steps to get the divorce process going. This includes filing an official petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Civil Union with the court and completing all necessary paperwork. Once submitted to the court, a summons will be issued, which ensures that the other party to the divorce receives notice of the proceedings. At this point, the respondent, or the party receiving notice of the filing, has 30 days to file an appearance and a response. Respondents who fail to at least file an appearance with the court within this deadline can be held in default, which means that the divorce will automatically be considered uncontested and so will go on without the other spouse’s presence or input. In these cases, courts usually make decisions based primarily on the statements made and evidence submitted by the petitioning spouse.
In the event that a couple is able to come to an agreement on some or all of the issues that must be decided before a divorce can be finalized, they must reduce the agreement to writing and sign it before presenting it to the judge. If approved, the parties’ agreements will be made legally binding. When this is not possible, the court will be required to make the decision on the parties’ behalf by hearing evidence presented in a series of court appearances.
Illinois is an equitable distribution state, so when couples cannot agree on how marital assets should be divided, a court will step in and split up the property in a way that it deems fair. It is important to note that this only applies to marital assets, which are essentially all assets obtained during the marriage. Property that was purchased or obtained before the marriage will remain in the sole possession of the original owner unless it was commingled with marital assets during the marriage. Inheritances and gifts also remain in the possession of the recipient, even if given during the marriage. When determining what is equitable, courts assess a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s age and health, the standard of living established during the marriage, and how much property each party brought to the marriage. This is an extremely fact-specific analysis, so it is important for divorcing parties to conduct careful financial investigations, the results of which can then be submitted to the judge.
Contact a Lake Forest Divorce Attorney for Help with Your Case
If you have questions about filing for divorce, please call Andrea Heckman Law to speak with a dedicated divorce attorney. Initial consultations are conducted free of charge, so please do not hesitate to call or contact us online today.