Although the rates have fallen since 2000, divorce is still about twice as common today as it was a generation ago. So, many people consider marriage dissolution a viable option if their relationship breaks down. When that happens, there are obvious legal questions to address. There are also substantial financial and emotional questions, such as property division and parenting time.
Divorce is really about moving on. At the Delaney Heckman, we put our clients in the best possible position. We diligently work to uphold our clients’ legal and financial interests in areas like alimony payments (now called “spousal maintenance”) and child custody (now called “the allocation of significant decision-making”). We serve as a strong voice during both court hearings and settlement negotiations. We also offer solid advice to help our clients through this time of transition.
The Nuts and Bolts of Divorce in Vernon Hills
Only one ground for divorce remains in Illinois. That is “irreconcilable differences”. The legislature recently did away with adultery, cruelty, and other evidence-based grounds. No-fault divorce shifts the focus away from the parents and onto the children. Fault, however, can still impact the divorce if it affects the children.
After the parties are separated for six months there is an irrebuttable presumption of irreconcilable differences. But a party can immediately file for divorce once the marriage breaks down. There is no six-month waiting period.
The first step is always filing a petition. After service of process, the legal process moves forward. Most Vernon Hills divorce cases settle out of court, and that settlement could occur at any time. Generally speaking, if the parties have a premarital agreement, the process usually moves quickly. Otherwise, there could be a protracted dispute over property division, parenting time, or another issue.
What to Expect During a Cook County Divorce
If the divorce involves property or children, a judge may have a summary hearing to address pressing financial and parenting issues. But it is the responsibility of a party, through his or her attorney, to bring the need for a hearing to the attention of the court. Our firm knows how to do this. At this hearing, the judge makes interim orders. Mathematical formulas usually determine DSOs (Domestic Support Obligations, like child support). The judge will probably not enter any substantive orders concerning property division. However, a mutual restraining order is not uncommon. This order prohibits both parties from disposing of property until the court rules otherwise.
As for temporary custody, Cook County judges usually continue the status quo. If the children live with Mother at the time the petition was filed, they will probably continue living with Mother, even if the arrangement is not ideal or perfect. But there is a danger to broad generalizations. Every divorce case is unique.
The temporary parenting time division could change, depending on the outcome of an investigation and report by a court-appointed professional. In contested cases, Cook County judges often order these inquiries. When there are contested issues related to the children, the court will often appoint an attorney, guardian ad litem, or a child’s representative, to recommend to the court actions which serve the children’s best interests. Working with such experts is often critical to a client’s case.
Mediation usually resolves property division and other financial disputes. The parties meet with a professional mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Cook County family law attorney. The mediator conveys settlement offers back and forth between the parties. Mediation is successful about 75% of the time.
Count on Hard-Hitting Lawyers
Every divorce case is different, but most follow the same general procedural outline. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Vernon Hills, contact the Delaney Heckman After-hours visits are available.