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Filing for divorce? Here's what to expect: part I

As residents in Illinois prepare to ring in the New Year, many will reflect upon this and other years past. There's something about the start of a new calendar year and the promise of new beginnings that prompts an individual to examine his or her life and take stock of what, if any, changes are necessary. For some married couples, the start of this New Year will signal an end to their marriage as divorce papers are prepared and filed.

The decision to file for divorce is one that many divorcees struggle for months or even years to make. Regardless of one's reasons for filing for divorce, once papers are filed, life will never be the same. Of course, this fact is comforting to many spouses who previously felt unhappy, unfulfilled and trapped in a marriage. In this two-part blog post, we'll take a look at the divorce process and provide some helpful tips to keep in mind while going through a divorce.

Even in cases where both spouses want a divorce, one spouse must start the process by completing and filing a divorce petition or complaint. This document contains state-specific information and details an individual's reason for seeking the dissolution of a marriage as well as proposed methods to resolve divorce-related matters. A non-filling spouse is served with a copy of the complaint at which time he or she must provide answers in response to the information detailed therein.

Often divorcing couples have differing opinions on how property and assets should be divided and, if applicable, child custody matters should be resolved. In some cases, the divorce settlement process can become contentious and drag on for months. It's important, therefore, to have a legal advocate who will work to promote an individual's best interests and negotiate terms of a divorce settlement that are favorable and provide for an individual’s post-divorce financial security.

In most divorces, with the aid of their respective attorneys, divorcing spouses are able to reach a divorce settlement after which time a divorce decree is entered by a judge and a divorce is finalized. In cases where a divorcing couple is not able to agree upon the terms of a divorce settlement, the matter must go to trial where a judge will have the final say.

In our next post, we'll discuss challenges related to the divorce process and tips on how to overcome such challenges.

Source: FindLaw.com, "A Divorce Timeline," 2014

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