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Chronology of Divorce in Naperville

Understanding the Procedures & Vocabulary of Dissolution in Illinois

Divorce is an extremely complex process that can be challenging for couples whether the separation is contested or uncontested. There are lots of terms and procedures that might confuse you, so we set out to define those phrases and help you understand the chronological procession of a divorce in Illinois. Our Naperville divorce attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the procedure.

Give the Roscich & Martel Law Firm a call at (630) 793-6337 if you need reliable representation for your divorce.

Terms You Need to Know

1. Petition for dissolution - The petition is the original document that is filed with the Clerk of the Court identifying the parties, where they live, when and where they were married, the names and ages of their children, and their places of employment. It also lists any requests to provide child support, maintenance, and division of marital assets and asks the Court to dissolve the marriage.

The cost to file the petition is:

  • $225.00 in Kendall County
  • $303.00 in Will County
  • $306.90 in Kane County
  • $292.00 in DuPage County

2. Service - Your spouse is served with a copy of the petition for dissolution. By law, this can be done by the sheriff or a special process server delivering a copy of the petition to the residence or place of work of your spouse. Alternatively, you can give it to your spouse or your spouse can pick up a copy of the petition at our office.

If service is not done by the sheriff or special process server, your spouse will be asked to sign an appearance form and tender a check in the amount of:

  • $125.00 in Kendall County
  • $188.00 in Will County
  • $191.90 in Kane County
  • $177.00 in DuPage County

Checks must be payable to the “Clerk of the Court.” Your spouse’s appearance may be filed by us with the Clerk of the Court. If your spouse does not respond to this alternate form of service within a reasonable amount of time after the petition is filed, we will make arrangements to send the petition with a summons to the sheriff for service as required by law.

3. Response - This is a document that will be filed as an answer to the petition for dissolution (or a legal response to any associated petition or motion). It will admit the facts that are alleged in the petition which are true and will deny other certain issues, including parental allocations, the need for child support or maintenance, and a request to pay attorney’s fees.

4. Status dates - When the petition for dissolution is filed, it will be assigned a number, a judge, and an automatic status date. This date may be two to four months following the date in which the petition was filed. Typically, the court requires a status date every month thereafter. At status dates, the attorneys appear before the judge to advise the status of the case and to ensure that the matter is moving forward to resolution. The parties are not required to be at court unless it is set for hearing or other concern, but clients are always welcome to attend.

5. Discovery - This is the process by which we determine what property is owned by the parties and other important facts concerning the issues of the case. This may include requests for a financial affidavit, a notice to produce, interrogatories, subpoenas, and depositions.

6. Pre-trial conference - This is a settlement meeting in the judge's chamber with the attorneys of the parties. The judge will hear an informal discussion of the concerns of the parties and the issues remaining and will attempt to make settlement proposals for the parties to consider. This conference is done with the judge who would hear a trial of your case. At the conclusion of the pre-trial conference, it is hoped that negotiations can occur so progress can be made toward settlement of the case.

7. Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) and Allocation Judgment (AJ) - The MSA and AJ are negotiated agreements between the parties that resolve all of the issues of custody, support, maintenance, visitation, and division of marital and non-marital assets. These documents will be presented to the court at the prove-up and will be included in the judgment for dissolution.

8. Prove-up - The prove-up is the brief hearing before the court upon the completion of a divorce which is resolved by agreement of the parties. At the prove-up testimony, the Petitioner states the allegations which that were set forth in the original petition; the MSA and AJ (if not previously entered) are identified and admitted into evidence; and the parties each are heard to testify to their acceptance of the agreement and their willingness to be bound by it. The judge will make findings regarding the dissolution of the marriage and incorporation of the agreements into the judgment of dissolution.

9. Trial - In the event the parties are unable to reach an agreement on MSA and AJ, the matter will be set for trial and evidence will be presented to a judge, without a jury, regarding assets of the parties, income, living expenses, needs of the children, and other issues that the court must decide. At a trial, the judge will resolve all issues not stipulated and agreed to by the parties. The judge's determination is final.

10. Judgment of dissolution - This is the decree that is signed by the judge officially dissolving the marriage.

11. Support order - If you or your spouse is required to pay support to the other for the benefit of your spouse or children, this support may be paid through the State Disbursement Unit (SDU), a payment clearing house. The Clerk of the Court and SDU keep records of all payments made.

12. Order of withholding - This order is required to be entered whenever support payments must be made for the benefit of a spouse or children. A support order of withholding is entered at the time of the entry of the judgment of dissolution. This order requires the employer of the payer to withhold the support amount from the employee's paycheck and forward the amount to the payee via the SDU.

13. Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) - In the event either spouse is a participant in a retirement plan, profit sharing, or pension, it may be agreed by the parties or the court may order that the non-participant spouse in the plan be given an amount or percentage interest in that profit sharing or pension plan if, as, and when the employed spouse receives benefits. The order providing for division of the plan is entitled a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Pursuant to federal law, the entry of a QDRO and the transfer of such monies does not cause an early withdrawal penalty or tax consequence. QDRO’s are typically done at or just after the entry of the judgment of dissolution.

If you have any questions about the divorce process, our Naperville divorce attorneys are here to help. Call us at (630) 793-6337.

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