Although many people in the Chicago area have a friend or family member who has gone through a divorce, it can be difficult to know precisely what is involved in the process until you go through it yourself. While each divorce case will have its own set of facts, and every married couple will have some specific issues that are particular to their marriage, the general divorce process will be similar for all parties given that divorces are governed by the same Illinois law. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs divorce issues in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois. The following are the key steps in the divorce process.
Complaint or Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
The first step in the divorce process is for one or both parties to initiate the divorce proceeding by filing a complaint or petition for the dissolution of marriage. The IMDMA explains that the petition needs to at least include the following information:
- Age, occupation, and residence (and length of that residence) of each of the parties;
- Date of the parties’ marriage;
- Place where the marriage was registered;
- Whether either of the parties has filed a complaint or petition for the dissolution of marriage in another county or state;
- Statement that the residency requirements have been met;
- Statement that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
- Names, ages, and addresses of all children from the marriage;
- Pregnancy information if one of the spouses is pregnant;
- Existing arrangements concerning family support, spousal maintenance, and/or the allocation of parental responsibilities; and
- Relief the party (or parties) is seeking.
Court Determines Whether Irreconcilable Differences Caused the Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage
Next, the court will consider whether irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Sometimes this issue is contested by one of the spouses. As the IMDMA explains, as long as the parties have lived separate and apart for six months or longer, an irrebuttable presumption exists that this requirement has been met.
Parties Can Negotiate a Settlement Agreement or Proceed to Trial
Depending upon the circumstances of the case, and whether this is an uncontested or contested divorce, the court may give the parties additional time to reach a settlement agreement. Otherwise, the case will move to a trial. At trial, in a contested divorce, the court will reach a decision on the issues to which the parties cannot agree, such as property division, maintenance, and the allocation of parental responsibilities.
Court Issues an Order Dissolving the Marriage
Once all requirements have been met and the court has heard the case, the court can issue an order dissolving the marriage, or divorce order.
Seek Advice From a Divorce Lawyer in Chicago
Divorces can be extremely complicated, especially when divorces are contested. Whether you have concerns about financial issues like the distribution of marital property or spousal maintenance, or worries about the allocation of parental responsibilities, one of the experienced Chicago divorce lawyers at our firm can become working with you on your case today. Contact Arami Law, Inc. to learn more about the family law services we provide in Chicago.