Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and other stalwart superheroes were once a fixture on Saturday mornings. Some people still wonder what happened to these shows, especially since many superhero movies are so popular. There is some evidence that no-fault divorce may have been at least partially responsible for the demise of Saturday morning cartoons. So, in a way, Cook County family law judges may have closed the Hall of Justice, thus achieving something that always eluded the nefarious Lex Luthor and his ilk.
According to the no-fault marriage dissolution theory, in the early 1970s, most parents let their children remain in front of the TV for several hours on Saturday mornings. But as parenting time became more precious, they wanted to actually spend this time with their children.
How Do Divorces Get Started in Chicago?
Illinois is a pure no-fault state. Courts do not allow divorce based on cruelty, adultery, abandonment, or any other martial fault. Irreconcilable differences are the only recognized marriage dissolution basis.
So, as a practical matter, once one spouse files for divorce, the other spouse can not stop the process. It is possible to slow things down, as the waiting period is two years unless both spouses agree to reduce it to six months. But the judge can accept one spouse’s testimony that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
There is also a residency requirement. If there are no children, one spouse must have lived in the state for at least 60 days. If the couple has minor children, the residency requirement is 180 days.
Usually, about two weeks after a spouse files a petition, the judge presides over a temporary hearing. After this hearing, the judge enters orders regarding temporary spousal support, temporary child custody, and other matters. Aggressive representation at this hearing is often crucial. Typically, though the orders technically expire when the case is over, the temporary orders serve as a blueprint for the final orders.
What Happens Next?
Discovery usually takes place after the temporary hearing. During this period, the two sides exchange information about their claims and defenses. A divorce case usually involves information about the children and financial matters. Sometimes discovery is quick and agreed-upon. Other times, especially in high-asset cases, there may be protracted discovery disputes.
If child custody is an issue, most Cook County judges order social services investigations. The social worker evaluates the case and makes a recommendation as to child custody. This recommendation is not legally binding, but most judges give their conclusions great weight.
Most divorce cases settle out of court, and most of these settlements occur during mediation. A third party, who is usually a retired judge or an unaffiliated family law attorney, tried to facilitate a settlement between the two sides. Largely because it offers significant advantages over a trial, mediation is successful about 75% of the time.
Sometimes, the parties are too far apart on key issues to settle. Or, one party wants a trial for legal or emotional reasons. Such a trial usually takes place before the judge without a jury. An appeal may be possible in some situations.