Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you become a family law attorney?
Does your life experience affect your work?
How do you like your job?
What Does The Divorce Process Consist Of?
If you add in the procedural steps (such as serving the other side) the steps are as follow:
- Filing Petition for Dissolution of Marriage by the Petitioner spouse who begins the divorce proceeding,
- Serving Petition to the other party (either personal service or service by publication if you don’t know how to reach your spouse.
- Exchanging financial information with your spouse,
- Child-custody trial or reaching a Parenting Agreement (this may or may not happen parallel to the trial regarding the finances see below)
- Trial or reaching a Marital Settlement Agreement with your spouse,
- Entry of Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage by judge (this may happen by agreement of the parties through a Marital Settlement Agreement or after a trial when the judge makes his or her ruling).
How Long Does A Divorce Typically Take?
If you have a contested divorce which does not settle, it is usually tried within two years of the filing.
I Have Already Been Served Papers By My Spouse – What Do I Do?
If you can afford it, it is best to hire a lawyer because there are some subtleties that you might miss if you’re representing yourself pro-se. For example, even though your spouse served you with papers it does not necessarily mean that the court where your spouse filed for divorce has jurisdiction over you. If you file your appearance without objecting to jurisdiction you may inadvertently submit yourself to the court’s jurisdiction when it might have been to your advantage to contest jurisdiction.
My Spouse Had An Affair – Will That Affect The Outcome?
How Does A Divorce Settlement Differ From A Divorce Trial?
A trial is the culmination of a divorce proceeding. This means that you will have passed all the stages of a divorce proceeding (i.e. filing Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, financial discovery, custody evaluation, business appraisal, preparing for trial) before your case is finished. For obvious reasons a trial is much more time consuming and expensive than settling. The other drawback of a trial is that the judge makes the final decision, so you may not get as personalized a judgment as you might have received if you had successfully negotiated the outcome with your spouse.
Cost Of Divorce:
How Much Does A Typical Divorce Cost?
What Factors Go Into the Cost of a Divorce?
- How reasonable you and your spouse are with your expectations for the outcome of the case,
- The philosophy and attitude of the attorney advising you and your spouse (attorneys that focus on reaching agreement are, obviously, cheaper than ones who are more argumentative in nature),
- The philosophy and attitude of any court appointed lawyer such as a children’s representative,
- The worth of the assets that you’re arguing over (it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot on attorney’s fees when you’re arguing over nominal property),
- The complexity of the case (are there businesses involved that need to be valued? Are you requesting reimbursement for dissipation of the marital estate? Is an accountant needed to find hidden money?),
- The issues that you are arguing (can you reach an agreement on at least some issues such as child custody, child support, maintenance?),
- How helpful the judge is in helping you reach a resolution,
- The truthfulness and honesty of everyone involved in the case (if anyone lies, the other side may have to spend unnecessary time and energy disproving the lie).
What Can I Do To Keep My Costs Down?
- Reach a full agreement with your spouse,
- Reach a partial agreement with your spouse on some issues,
- Resolve minor day-to-day issues without your lawyer (ie., it’s probably quicker and easier for you to tell your spouse what cold medicine the doctor recommended your daughter take than for the attorneys to draft letters informing the other side of this),
- Be honest and don’t give your spouse reason to distrust you (a suspicious spouse often refuses to settle because they believe there is something you’re not telling them. Also, suspicious spouses tend to hire experts and spend more money investigating things than they might have if they trusted you).
I Don’t Work – Can The Court Make My Spouse Pay For My Attorney?
How Do Courts Divide Marital Assets?
The Illinois statute says that a court must consider all relevant factors in making its decision of how to apportion the marital estate. Some of of the relevant factors to be considered are (1) the contribution of each party to the marriage (this can include contributions as a home-maker, (2) any dissipation of assets (dissipation is when property is used to benefit only one spouse, for a reason unrelated to the marriage, when the marriage is irreconcilably breaking down), (3) value of the non-marital property awarded to each party (the more non-marital property you have, the less you need the marital property), (4) duration of the marriage, (5) Relative economic circumstances of the parties (if one party makes $1,000,000 per year and the other makes nominal income, it might be fair to award the lower earning spouse a larger share of the marital estate), and (5) prenuptial and postnuptial agreements between the parties.
Can I Lose My Home or Retirement Assets In A Divorce?
Obviously, you don’t have to worry about your home or retirement assets being awarded to your spouse if the home or assets are your non-marital property.
Can My Spouse Lock Me Out of My House/Bank Accounts?
My Spouse Controls Our Money – How Will I Afford This?
Regardless of whether I’m representing the spouse with access to the funds or the spouse without access to the funds, I usually recommend that the spouse with no access to money be granted access to a relatively large sum of money, say $50,000, from which they can pay their attorney. Giving the no-access-to-money spouse enough money that they can themselves pay their attorney’s fees helps prevent the illusion that their attorney is being “paid” by their spouse thet happens if the spouse is the one writing the checks to the attorney. There is a special pain that happens when you write a large check that you just don’t get if someone else paying for you, even if you know that the money is ultimately coming from the same source. I believe that people who have to pay their own attorney’s fees use their attorneys more judiciously.
Will I Have To Pay Child Support or Alimony, And How Is It Calculated?
Custody and Children:
My Spouse Will Not Allow Me To Talk To My Child(ren) – What Do I Do?
I Want To Move With My Child(ren)– What Do I Do?
I Am A Father – Will This Affect The Outcome of My Custody Case?
- There’s no point in worrying about something over which you have no control. You should focus on what you believe is best for your child and fight for that.
- Most judges are not gender biased when it comes to awarding child custody. However, often in a custody case there are other professionals involved such as a custody evaluator or children’s representative. The opinions and positions of these professionals often carry a lot of weight with the court. I have felt that sometimes some of these professionals might have made some assumptions about the parents based on gender, race, or class.
- Even if some of the people involved in your child custody case are predisposed to stereotypes it doesn’t necessary mean that it will work against the father. I remember one case where the husband and wife were into S&M. The experts involved in the case were seemed to think that my clients sexual interests somehow affected ability to mother her children but were totally unconcerned with the father’s interests. Gender stereotypes work in the mom’s favor if she fits the stereotype of a 50’s housewife; they work in dad’s favor the further mom veers from the stereotype.
How Will the New Illinois Family Laws Affect My Case?
The significant changes in child-custody are:
- The term “custody” is no longer used. We now have “allocation of parental responsibilities”. The term custody never made any sense anyway, because parents always had to reach an agreement as to who should make the decisions regarding the children’s health, education, religions upbringing, and extra curricular activities. Sometimes parents decided to split everything 50/50 or have on parent decide one issue and the other parent decide the other.
- The term “visitation” is no longer used. We now have “parenting time”. “Visitation” never made any sense, because no parent has ever “visited” with their children. Parenting time is the more appropriate term.
Maintenance (spousal support):
Before the new statute, the judge could just award maintenance that felt right (after considering a number of factors, such as future earning potential). There was no statue outlining how maintenance should be calculated. The statute now provides an equation to calculate maintenance. A judge still has discretion to deviate or even deny maintenance to a spouse but you at least now there is a frame work for lawyers and judges to work with. This is significantly better than before because often litigants would have wildly different ideas of what was “fair” maintenance amount and would spend significant sums of money litigating this issue. The statutory maintenance calculation should greatly reduce litigation and help in settlement negotiations.
How Do I Get Started With A Divorce?
- Reach an agreement with your spouse and then file for divorce, or
- File for divorce and then attempt to reach an agreement with your spouse or prepare for trial.
If you have a really amicable relationship with your spouse it is probably worth it to consider reaching an agreement with your spouse before filing because the informal nature of the process will probably help you resolve things more quickly and affordably. You can still hire attorney’s to help you through the process of reaching agreement but if you hire us before you file, you won’t have to pay for us to go to court unnecessarily while you reach an agreement.
If you don’t have an amicable relationship with your spouse
What Documents Do I Need to Gather?
- A Financial Affidavit
- The last two calendar year’s of your filed income federal and state tax returns (including individual, partnership and corporate); If you haven’t filed tax returns for the past two years then you should provide your spouse with your last filed tax returns and all W-2’s, 1099’s and K-1’s that you have received for the years you didn’t file taxes.
- Your most recent pay stub (if it includes year to date information) or the five most recent pay stubs.
Try to gather all financial information regarding your and your spouse’s finances as you can. You should make sure not to break the law (so don’t illegally go log into your spouse’s business account). Any and all information and knowledge you acquire about your finances will be useful to you during your divorce. For example, if you are totally unaware of your family finances, then even just knowing what banks your spouse uses can be very helpful because then during the divorce your attorney can subpoena those banks and get the records.
What Should I Consider When Gathering Evidence For My Case?
What All Can Be Used As Evidence In A Divorce Case?
So, in a case where your abusive spouse is claiming that they never said a bad word to you, a hateful voicemail might make for good evidence. In a case where your spouse claims to have no savings, his bank account records would be helpful in proving otherwise.