Starting a divorce in Illinois

Once you’ve selected an Illinois divorce lawyer and decided to move forward with your divorce case, a lot of things start to happen fairly quickly. The divorce process can involve frantic activity at various points with some periods of inactivity in between. Right at the beginning is one of those times that a lot will be happening and it is easy to get confused. For reference, when a client hires me to file a divorce for them, here is what happens next:

First, I review the initial interview notes and the informational sheet we filled out together. Based on this information, I will draft a divorce petition and any other required documents. Generally there are about a half dozen documents that need to be prepared at the start for a divorce case involving minor children. Once these are complete, I send them to my client. Since this is my first contact with my client by mail or email, I typically follow up 5-7 days later to make sure the documents were received and determine if any changes or modifications are needed.

Once the documents have been reviewed, approved and signed, you will return the documents to me and I will file them with the court. This official starts your court case. It also puts into motion other aspects of the case. I will attempt to serve your spouse, if they don’t already know about the divorce or haven’t agreed to accept service, by having a private investigator deliver the divorce petition and other documents by hand, either to their residence or their workplace. If children are involved, you now have a case number and should sign up for a parenting class through the McHenry County College as soon as possible.

Once your spouse has been served with the documents, there is typically a brief period of inactivity while we wait for them to file their appearance or hire an attorney. They have thirty days from the date of service to do so. If they don’t then we file a motion asking the court to hold them in default and proceed with entry of a divorce judgment without their participation.

During this period of time things can become very active or remain very calm, depending on how you and your spouse react to the start of the divorce proceedings. Generally I advise my clients to attempt to maintain the status quo until both parties have their attorneys and we are able to determine the tone and nature of the response. Unfortunately, sometimes not everyone has the same idea and if your spouse starts by cutting off funds or attempting to access assets inappropriately, we may need to be more active in seeking injunctions (prohibiting the removal or liquidation of assets) or filing motions for temporary relief (seeking temporary child support, temporary custody, or temporary alimony).

Once both sides have appeared or have counsel, then the main part of the divorce case, including document disclosures, discovery and negotiations can begin. While there is a lot to do at the beginning, remember that when you hire the Stetler Law Group you have the support and information you need to make you comfortable that your case is proceeding as planned.

If you are considering a divorce and need information or advice, please contact us.