What to Expect in a Cook County Divorce Case

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What to Expect in a Cook County Divorce Case

When Illinois lawmakers eliminated the two-year divorce waiting period in 2016, many people though the procedure would substantially change, as well.

For the most part, that is not the case. 95% of divorce cases still settle out of court, and that settlement could occur at any time. Settlement is most likely once discovery is at least substantially complete. Both sides have all their cards on the table, both sides have already spent significant money on legal fees, and there is still a long way to go. That all adds up to a powerful settlement incentive.

A Schaumburg divorce lawyer can guide your case through the process and give you solid legal advice every step of the way.

Service of Process

This important step could be the simplest or most complex portion of your marriage dissolution case.

Typically, the non-filing spouse, or the non-filing spouse’s attorney, quickly accepts service of process in a divorce case. That is especially true if the couple has children and/or assets to divide.

In other situations, service is more complicated. Some non-filing spouses intentionally dodge process servers. In that case, it may be necessary to hire a private process server or even a private investigator. Other spouses leave the jurisdiction and do not leave forwarding addresses.

Absentee spouse cases often involve substituted service by publication. If the intricate rules are not followed to the letter, a judge may decide that the service was invalid, and the filing spouse must start over. So, attention to detail is very important.

Someday soon, service via Facebook message and other social media may be widely accepted. A handful of judges currently allow such service of process. But there are no official rules on this subject.

Temporary Hearing

Usually about two weeks after service of process, the judge issues temporary orders. This hearing may be one of the most important ones in the whole process, and your lawyer has very little time to prepare.

Temporary orders cover subjects like spousal support and parenting time division. Once the judge makes these decisions, they are difficult to un-do. So, assertive representation is important.

Preparation is even more important. Most lawyers come to the temporary hearing with a draft of temporary orders. This simple strategy puts your attorney ahead of the game. 

Technically, the temporary orders expire when the divorce becomes final. But in most cases, the temporary orders serve as the blueprint for the final orders. Quite often, property division is the only substantive remaining issue. 


In marriage dissolution cases, discovery revolves around both parenting time and property division matters.

If parenting time is still contested, many Cook County judges appoint social services investigators. These professionals review the file and other written records, like report cards, interview the parents and children, and talk to witnesses, like teachers. Then, they prepare and file reports with the court. If this report’s conclusion differs from the division in the temporary order, the judge often modifies the orders.

Property division is difficult after long marriages since property becomes commingled. For example, Husband may use funds from his paycheck (marital property) to pay student loans (nonmarital debt). 


As mentioned, most divorce cases settle out of court. If the case is still unresolved after discovery, the judge usually orders the parties to mediation.

This forum is successful about 75% of the time. A neutral third party works to facilitate a settlement between the two sides. Mediated settlements reduce litigation costs and give the parties more control over the outcome.

Contact a Dedicated Lawyer

Every divorce is different, but they follow the same procedural outline. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Chicago, contact the Andrea Heckman Law We routinely handle matters in Cook County and nearby jurisdictions.

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Andrea Heckman

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