Divorce can often be a complicated and emotionally draining process for all parties involved. But seeking a divorce lawyer does not have to be part of the struggle.

If you are in need of a Chicago divorce lawyer, speak with one of our network attorneys at Vantage Group Legal today. We connect our monthly subscribers with highly experienced divorce lawyers in Chicago, all for one low monthly fee.

We can help ease some of the burdens a divorce can have on an individual. Let us do our part to help you along the way with effective representation at just a fraction of the traditional cost.

Understanding How Divorce Works in Illinois

Nobody gets married anticipating that they will get a divorce in the future. However, divorce remains a sad reality for many Americans. In fact, it is estimated that roughly 39% of marriages end in divorce.

A divorce can be emotionally exhausting. And depending on how complicated or contentious your situation is, a divorce can be time-consuming and expensive.

To give you an idea of what the process looks like, we’ve included the six main steps you will likely go through in your Chicago divorce case below.

Step 1: Contact Vantage Legal Services for a Free Consultation

Going through a divorce involves a complicated legal process with many steps along the way. Thus, having an experienced Illinois divorce lawyer in your corner can be a great asset to you as you navigate this tricky process. But how do you begin your search for a Divorce lawyer in Chicago?

Look no further than Vantage Group Legal. When you reach out to Vantage Group for a consultation, you will meet with a licensed attorney to discuss the details of your case.

Be sure to bring all information you think is relevant to your case. After your free consultation, we will offer you a subscription plan that meets your needs.

Then, our in-house counsel and legal research team will perform an audit on your case, taking into account the type of case, your desired outcome, and other factors. We then assign a divorce attorney to your case with the right experience for your circumstances.

In short, Vantage Group Legal will:

  • Provide you with a free consultation;
  • Set you up with a customized subscription plan to fit your specific needs;
  • Do an in-depth review and analysis of your case; and
  • Match you with a Chicago divorce lawyer that will be well-equipped to handle your case.

When you sign up for a subscription with us, you won’t need to spend hours and hours researching Chicago divorce lawyers. Nor will you need to do multiple consultations with various attorneys to find the right one for you.

Vantage Group Legal does the leg work so you don’t have to.

Step 2: File a Petition for Divorce

In Illinois, the first step in a divorce is the filing of the petition for divorce.

When one spouse wants to end the marriage, they must file what is called a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. This petition must include detailed information about you, your spouse, the reasons for your petition for divorce, and much more.

If you have never gone through a divorce before, a divorce petition can seem overwhelming to complete on your own. A Chicago divorce lawyer can draft the petition for you, which can relieve some of the stress during this emotional and difficult time.

As a general matter, an Illinois divorce can be either contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce, as the name implies, is uncontested. This means that:

  • Both spouses agree on everything at issue in the divorce; or
  • The spouse that did not file for the divorce did not file an answer to the divorce petition.

An uncontested divorce is typically faster than a contested divorce. However, it can still take months to finalize the process.

A contested divorce, on the other hand, can take much longer. A divorce will be considered “contested” if the spouses disagree about any of the following:

  • Whether to get a divorce;
  • How assets and debts should be divided between the parties;
  • Custody issues regarding any children that the parties share;
  • Payment of child support; or
  • Whether and how much spousal support should be paid.

Regardless of whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, filing the petition is a required step in the process. A Chicago divorce lawyer can help you file the petition and more.

Step 3: Establish Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

To qualify for a divorce in Illinois, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the State for at least 90 days prior to filing the petition. If this is not the case, then you may not file your petition in Illinois.

So long as you do meet the residency requirement, the next thing you must do is establish the grounds for your divorce.

To do so, you must be able to prove that there are “irreconcilable differences” between you and your spouse and that there is little chance of reconciliation. To prove this, you must be able to show that:

  1. These irreconcilable differences caused the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage; and
  2. Efforts at reconciliation have failed or future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable under the circumstances.

One way of doing this is by showing that you and your spouse have been living “separate and apart” for at least 6 months. This is the official waiting period for obtaining a divorce in Illinois.

If this is the case, the court will assume that the “irreconcilable differences” requirement has been met.

However, Illinois law does not require that the couple physically separate during the six months they are separated. Additionally, if you and your spouse attempt to reconcile during the six months, these attempts do not restart the waiting period.

Step 4: Entry of Temporary Orders in a Divorce Proceeding

Even after you file your divorce petition, life will continue to move forward.

For this reason, a court may enter a temporary order in some cases. This is a legally binding, but temporary, judgment that both parties must comply with throughout the divorce proceedings.

A court can enter a temporary order for issues involving:

  • Child custody,
  • Allocation of parenting time and responsibilities,
  • Visitation,
  • Child support, and
  • Maintenance.

Again, temporary orders are binding, and relief will continue until the conclusion of the case. However, it is important to note that temporary orders should not impact the judge’s decisions in rendering a final decision on the divorce case.

Step 5: The Discovery Process

The next step in a divorce case is what is known as the “discovery” process.

Discovery is the process by which parties to a lawsuit exchange relevant facts and information regarding the case. While discovery is used in all types of legal cases, discovery in a divorce can be especially useful.

In an ideal world, the exchange of information regarding your divorce would be simple and amicable. However, that is not always the case. When spouses fail to cooperate and work together to reach a resolution, discovery can be a great tool.

Examples of discoverable materials in an Illinois divorce case include information and documents regarding either spouse’s individual or joint:

  • Home,
  • Vehicles,
  • Collectibles,
  • Accounts,
  • Stocks and bonds,
  • Employment history and income,
  • Tax returns,
  • Debts, and
  • Employee benefit accounts (401k, FSA, HSA).

The evidence obtained in discovery can help a great deal as you move forward with your divorce.

There are a few different methods of obtaining discoverable information in an Illinois divorce case. These methods include:

  • Written interrogatories;
  • Requests to produce documents or other tangible items for inspection;
  • Requests to admit facts at issue;
  • Subpoenas; and
  • Depositions. 

Each case is different, but an experienced Chicago divorce attorney can help you determine what information may be discoverable and how to request it from your spouse.

Step 6: Completion of Your Divorce Case

Throughout your case, you may attempt to reach a settlement with your spouse on the disputed points of your divorce. In fact, the parties can enter into a settlement agreement up until the day of the trial. If you do reach a settlement, this will become the final binding agreement between the parties.

If you and your spouse are unable to resolve all aspects of your divorce through settlement negotiations, then you will need to proceed with trial.

A trial is always a risk, as the judge will be entrusted with making the final determination as to:

  • Division of assets and debts,
  • Maintenance,
  • Allocation of parental responsibilities,
  • Parenting time, and
  • Support issues.

After both sides have presented their case, the judge will make a final ruling. He or she may not make their ruling immediately after the trial. However, they must do so within 60 days of the trial.

This ruling will be entered as a final Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage and will be a binding order on both parties.

What Alternatives to Divorce Exist in Illinois?

In some cases, a divorce may not actually be your best option if you want out of your marriage. Some alternatives to divorce include annulment, and legal separation.

Annulment

While divorce is the process for ending a marriage, an annulment makes it as if the marriage never occurred at all.

You can have a marriage annulled only in very limited circumstances where the validity of the marriage itself is called into question.

Valid bases for annulment include scenarios in which:

  • One spouse did not have the capacity to properly consent to be married due to a mental disability or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • One spouse was under the age of 18 and did not have parental consent to be married;
  • The parties were related;
  • One party was married to someone else at the time the current marriage took place; or
  • One spouse entered into the marriage due to force, fraud, or duress.

In these situations, you may have grounds for annulment.

Legal Separation

As with a divorce, a legal separation will require a court filing. The court will distribute property and may enter an order regarding things such as spousal support and child custody and support.

However, divorce and legal separation differ in one primary way. Whereas a divorce ends the marriage, in a legal separation, the parties remain married. However, the marital estate ends, and two separate estates are created. 

Examples where parties may desire a legal separation instead of a divorce include situations in which:

  • One or both parties are not yet ready for a divorce but need to be apart;
  • Religion prohibits divorce between the parties; or
  • The parties want or need to stay married to receive healthcare, social security, or other similar benefits.

A Chicago divorce lawyer can help you determine whether divorce or some other alternative is best for you and your situation.

Types of Divorce Cases We Handle

Regardless of the specific facts and circumstances surrounding your divorce, Vantage Group Legal can help. Below are some examples of cases we handle.

LGBTQ Divorce

LGBTQ couples must resolve same issues in their marriages as heterosexual couples do. Because LGBTQ marriages are legal in the state of Illinois and throughout the country, the divorce process is the same as the process for straight couples.

Nevertheless, LGBT couples may face special challenges in the divorce process. For example, child custody issues can be complicated if the non-biological parent has not established a formal legal relationship to the child. Additionally, if you were together for many years before you could be legally married, issues of property division and spousal maintenance can be complicated.

Spousal Support

If you worked in a non-wage earning capacity during your marriage, such as staying home with your children, you may wonder how you will make ends meet after your divorce. Fortunately, courts frequently take this into consideration.

Know that what you contributed during your marriage has value. Our network divorce attorneys will help you seek spousal support to ensure your needs are met.

Child Custody

Some of the most critical decisions in a divorce proceeding will involve custody of children. Our network attorneys have extensive experience handling child custody issues within a divorce case.

You can rest assured knowing that we will advocate for the custody arrangement you believe to be in your child’s best interest.

Military Divorce

Filing for divorce against a military spouse can be a sensitive topic and emotionally difficult to initiate. It can be just as difficult, if not more so, for a military spouse on the receiving end of a divorce petition.

No matter which party you are, Vantage Group Legal can help connect you with the right attorney to handle your military divorce.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce means that both spouses agree to the divorce and all terms of the divorce. Uncontested divorces are not very common. However, the team at Vantage Group Legal can help you navigate the process and get you the assistance you need to finalize your divorce.

Consult with a Chicago Divorce Attorney at Vantage Legal Services

At Vantage Group Legal, you will be in great hands. We will connect you with an experienced Chicago family law attorney who will be well-qualified to handle your divorce case.

Not only will you receive top-notch legal representation, you will receive it at a lower overall cost than you would through traditional methods of hiring an attorney.

With our unique monthly subscription arrangement, you will save time and money, all while getting the case monitoring and high-quality legal services your case deserves.

If you have questions about getting a divorce in Chicago or want to know more about our subscription services, contact our team today. We are available online and by phone at (773) 938-4747 to help you set up your free consultation and see how we can help you.

FAQ

Can Same-Sex Couples File for Divorce in Illinois?

Yes. Same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois, as well as in every other state. Thus, the divorce laws and procedures apply to LGBT couples the same as they do to non-LGBT couples.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

A divorce mediation is a more neutral and impartial way of handling a divorce. In a divorce mediation, both spouses work with a neutral mediator who helps the parties work toward a divorce resolution together.

A resolution will be reached only if both parties agree. The mediator will not render any unilateral decision, as a judge would in court. This can be a great option for parties who want to avoid litigation and who can work together amicably.

What Is the Difference Between Divorce Collaboration and Divorce Arbitration?

A collaborative divorce is one in which the spouses work with their attorneys to collaboratively reach a resolution through amicable negotiations.

A divorce arbitration is another divorce dispute resolution tool. Here, however, both spouses still present their positions to an arbitrator who will ultimately render a decision regarding the divorce.