How much does a divorce or “dissolution of marriage” case cost in Lake County, Illinois?
ANSWER: The total cost of your case will depend on many factors including the complexity of the issues involved, how long the case is pending before the court which directly relates to how many court dates there are, whether there are children involved, and numerous other factors. Generally, when a case is “uncontested” which means all issues are agreed-upon between the parties and we are simply drafting the documents and getting you divorced, our firm typically quotes a retainer amount of $2,500.00. Our firm also typically pays the filing fee costs out of the retainer you pay to our office and these costs can total approximately $400.00.
How long will my divorce case take?
ANSWER: It depends. If your case is uncontested and you and your spouse agree on all the terms, it can be finalized within a few months or even less. If the case is contested, it can take anywhere from several months to over 2 years to complete depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
What is the fastest way to get a divorce in Lake County?
ANSWER: The fastest way to get a divorce would be to agree upon the terms of all issues (both financial and child-related) with your spouse, and then contact a lawyer to draft up your agreements and schedule to finalize your case with the court. When the parties agree upon all terms, this process can be done as soon as one month or even faster! Our Attorneys can fast-track uncontested divorces to get your case done as soon as possible when you and your spouse agree upon all terms.
How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce in Illinois?
ANSWER: Technically, you have to have been living separate and apart from your spouse for more than 6 months prior to filing for divorce or prior to your divorce being finalized. However, many people think living “separate and apart” means living in two separate houses which is not necessarily the case. Many couples continue to live on one house but have not lived as man and wife for months or even years and may already meet this ground but are not aware of it. Please contact our office and schedule a free initial consultation if you would like to discuss this in more detail. Additionally, you can also file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage before meeting this six-month requirement because your case may take several months to resolve in which case you would meet the grounds of irreconcilable differences by the time the case is finalized which also meets the statutory requirements.
What are the first steps of the divorce process when I am ready to proceed with a divorce?
ANSWER: The first step is to file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” with the Lake County Clerk’s Office which is the document that initiates a divorce case and to then have the Petition served upon your spouse which starts the divorce process. The next step once both parties have attorneys representing them or have filed their own appearance(s) is typically to exchange financial documents to determine what assets are in the marital estate that need to be divided and, if there are minor children, to enter an “Allocation Judgment” or parenting plan for the children. If there is no agreement on a parenting plan for the children, the Court will likely send you to mediation with a private mediator early in the case to try to resolve any parenting issues which generally include allocation of decision-making and allocation of parenting time between the parties.
What is a “pro se appearance”?
ANSWER: A “pro se appearance” is a document a party will file with the court indicating he or she is representing him or herself in the case and that he or she is not hiring an attorney. It is essential for a party to have an attorney file an appearance on his or her behalf or to file a pro se appearance because, if not, the Court can enter an order of “default” against the party. A default order means the case will proceed without that party’s participation and which could end up in orders being entered against the non-participating party that are not beneficial to the party. It is typically not a good idea to represent yourself in a divorce case and it is always a good idea to consult with counsel prior to deciding to represent yourself “pro se”. Please contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation based on your situation if you would like to discuss this in more detail.
What is the difference between a divorce/dissolution of marriage and a legal separation?
ANSWER: There are many differences between the two, but a main difference between the two is that you are not divorced when you are legally separated, you are still actually married to your spouse, you just have a legal designation of being “legally separated”. Therefore, if you determine later you want to be divorced, you would likely have to retain counsel and petition for divorce or dissolution of marriage at that time in order to get divorced. Therefore, due to the lack of finality associated with legal separations, although people talk about legal separations and ask about them frequently, they are relatively uncommon in practice. However, some people prefer to obtain a legal separation for religious reasons or to be able to maintain health insurance coverage for their spouse, if that is allowed by the insurance provider. Please contact our office and schedule an initial consultation based on your situation to discuss these differences in more detail if you are interested in either.
What is mediation? Do I need to mediate with my spouse?
ANSWER: Mediation is a process whereby you and your spouse use a neutral third party, trained in mediation skills, to assist you in trying to reach an agreement on any disputed issues. Under Illinois law a court may order divorcing parties to mediate issues related to decision-making and parenting time for your children if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on these issues. If you and your spouse have an agreement on all issues related to your divorce, you may not need mediation. At that point, you can likely bypass mediation and hire an attorney to draft the final documents and schedule your case to be finalized. Our office has multiple lawyers trained in mediation if you are seeking to hire a mediator, and several attorneys who can represent you in your divorce case if you are seeking representation for a divorce case.
When can my child choose which parent he or she wants to live with?
ANSWER: The short answer is never: a child does not get to make this choice, the court or the parents make this choice for the child. With that being said, a child’s wishes are often taken into consideration the older a child gets and, generally, the older the child, the more his or her wishes are considered and relied upon by the court. The child’s wishes are typically taken into consideration though a “Guardian ad Litem” appointed by the court. A Guardian ad Litem is an attorney appointed to represent and advocate for your child’s best interests. This person meets with both parties, is required to meet with the child, and he or she makes recommendations to the court as to what is in the child’s best interests.
How much does it cost to have a Guardian ad Litem appointed on my case?
ANSWER: The court will set a retainer for the Guardian ad Litem which typically ranges from $1,500.00 to $3,000.00 depending on the issues involves (although it can be more or less) and this retainer is allocated between the parties either equally or in some other percentage depending on the parties’ financial circumstances if raised by their counsel in court. The Guardian ad Litem fees may exceed the retainer amount depending on the complexity of the issues.