The process of divorce or legal separation is governed by state law, and many procedures will differ depending on the county, or even the presiding judge. However, there are generally several legal proceedings that must take place before a final divorce or legal separation decree is issued. What happens prior to the final decree, whether it's a motion, an agreement, mediation, or divorce trial, these are all known as pre-decree.
Understanding Pre-Decree Divorce Proceedings in Illinois
Pre-decree divorce or legal separation proceedings are designed to help parties resolve any outstanding issues related to property, finances, and children, and to ensure that the final decree reflects a fair and equitable division of assets and responsibilities. Pre-decree can include mediation or evaluations and the drafting of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Marital Settlement Agreement, and/or the Judgment for Dissolution.
Filing for Divorce in Illinois
The first step in the divorce or legal separation process is for one or both spouses to file a petition with the court. This petition typically includes information about the parties, the grounds for the divorce or legal separation, and any requests for property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support.
The filing spouse must also serve the petition on the other spouse, who then has an opportunity to respond. In some states, the response is known as an answer, while in others it may be called a motion to dismiss or a counter-petition. The response must be filed within a specified period of time, usually between 20 and 30 days after service of the petition.
Once the divorce or legal separation petition has been filed, either party may request temporary orders. These orders may address issues such as spousal support, child custody, visitation, and child support until a final decree is issued. Temporary orders are usually granted only if there is a need for immediate relief, such as if one spouse is in danger or if there is a dispute over custody or support.
After the temporary orders have been issued, both parties may engage in the discovery process. Discovery is the formal process of gathering information and evidence in preparation for trial or settlement negotiations. Discovery may involve interrogatories, requests for the production of documents, depositions, and subpoenas for third-party records.
Mediation and Settlement Negotiations
In many states, the court will require the parties to participate in mediation or settlement negotiations before proceeding to trial. Mediation is a confidential process in which a neutral third party, known as a mediator, facilitates negotiations between the parties in an effort to reach a settlement. Settlement negotiations may also occur outside of mediation, either between the parties or with the assistance of their attorneys.
If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will proceed to trial. At trial, each party will present evidence and arguments in support of their position. The judge will then make a final determination regarding the division of property, spousal support, child custody, and child support.
Once the trial is complete, the judge will issue a final decree of divorce or legal separation. The final decree will reflect the judge's decision regarding the division of property, spousal support, child custody, and child support. The final decree will also include any other orders that are necessary to resolve the case, such as orders for the sale of property or the payment of debts. The divorce verdict can be appealed, but if not, any activities occurring after the final decree, like enforcement of spousal or child support, is known as post-decree.
Navigating Pre-Decree Divorce Proceedings in Cook County and throughout Illinois
The process of divorce or legal separation can be emotionally challenging and legally complex. By understanding the pre-decree legal proceedings, parties can better prepare themselves for the process and increase their chances of reaching a fair and equitable resolution. It is best to seek the advice of a qualified attorney so that, in the least, you gain a basic understanding of the process. This can help parties navigate the divorce or legal separation with greater ease and confidence.
Contact our Divorce Attorneys in Illinois Today
Divorce is hard, and dealing with it on your own is even harder. There are many facets of a divorce that must be considered. Without proper attention to the details during the pre-decree process, you could fail to obtain a divorce decree that serves your interests and upholds your rights. Contact The Diggs Law Firm today at 312-380-1070 to learn more.