Strategic Advocacy In Your Illinois Divorce Proceedings
No two divorces are alike. The length of your marriage, the size and complexity of your estate, the presence of minor children, the grounds for divorce and many other factors will make your proceedings unique. While the idea of a quick uncontested divorce is tempting, it should not be undertaken at the expense of your parental rights or property rights. Conversely, you cannot be so intent on "winning" your divorce that you obsess about the wrong issues or litigate without regard to the costs or consequences.
It takes an attorney with years of practical experience to help you strike the right balance between a willingness to negotiate and collaborate and sending a clear signal that you will not be manipulated or intimidated. The highly skilled attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd., are aggressive and strategic negotiators with the courtroom reputation to back up the stance we take.
We encourage amicable and productive settlements, providing the perspective and creative solutions to avoid an unnecessary fight. But we are proven trial lawyers who are always prepared go to court to protect you and your children and to achieve your objectives. We have an outstanding record of trial successes and the Jeffery M. Leving firm is recognized among the best family law firms in the United States. Our litigation experience will prove especially advantageous if your spouse is hostile, unreasonable or engaging in underhanded tactics.
"In the best possible world, couples would never part. In the next best possible world, our family courts would assist estranged couples in dissolving their unions fairly, quickly and cleanly. Sadly, that ideal is rarely approached."
— Jeffery M. Leving, in Father's Rights
A Comprehensive, Client-Centered Approach To Divorce
Whether you are initiating a dissolution or you were served with papers, divorce is overwhelming. You need to be very clear about what you are fighting for — and what is worth fighting for. There is no substitute for the counsel of an experienced trial lawyer who focuses on family law. Jeffery M. Leving has practiced in this field for 30 years and has selected a top-notch team of lawyers who can guide you through a complex and often gut-wrenching process.
We address every facet of divorce, attending to the critical details without losing sight of the big picture:
- Dissolution of marriage — contested, uncontested and no-fault divorce
- Division of property — equitable distribution of complex marital estates
- Alimony — amount and duration of spousal support (if applicable)
- Child custody — sole or joint custody, visitation schedules, relocation
- Domestic violence — protection orders, restraining orders, false allegations
Our Chicago divorce attorneys work closely with you to understand the dynamics of your relationship and what brought you to divorce, your goals and priorities in the proceedings, and any pressing issues or long-term concerns. From that foundation, we can tailor the strategies that will put you in the best position to achieve your desired outcome, whether through negotiations, litigation or a combination thereof. We can take a subtle, cautious approach or we can be overt and proactive. We can barter or we can play hardball. After giving you the tools to make informed choices, we will pursue the strategy you choose.
Typical Steps In The Divorce Process
While the facts and issues will vary in your case, most Illinois divorces follow this progression:
- Pre-petition negotiation — While this is not an official step in the process, it can be one of the most important. Resolving to be divorced and negotiating settlements to the numerous issues can greatly reduce the time divorce takes. Even if the parties do not fully work out these issues prior to filing a petition, they remain free to — and in fact are strongly encouraged to — resolve these issues prior to trial.
- Petition for the dissolution of marriage — The petition for the dissolution of marriage is a verified legal document that officially begins a divorce in the eyes of the court. It provides information about the parties, their property and any minor children; alleges the grounds for divorce; and tells the court what type of relief the petitioner seeks. This document must be delivered in person to the defendant spouse either by a county sheriff or by a private process server. (Substitute service and service by publication may be appropriate depending on the circumstances.)
- Defendant's answer — Once the defendant spouse has received the petition, he or she must file an answer within 30 days that admits or denies each allegation therein, or file a more appropriate pleading depending on strategic circumstances. When a spouse admits that grounds for divorce exist — usually irreconcilable differences — an uncontested divorce may occur, although issues of child custody, child support, property division and alimony must still be decided.
- Temporary matters — Because divorce can be a lengthy process, it is sometimes necessary for the court to hold hearings to establish temporary orders for alimony pendente lite and child custody. In contentious cases, it may also be necessary for the court to issue restraining orders or orders of protection.
- Discovery — Once the issues have been framed through the pleadings, the parties may set about exchanging relevant information through formal or informal discovery. Most often, this includes financial information that is relevant to issues of property division and support, usually determined through interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Either party may also depose potential trial witnesses and request materials from third parties by way of subpoena. Negotiations usually continue throughout this process and, in many cases, result in a resolution without the necessity for a trial.
- Pretrial conference — At the conclusion of discovery, if no resolution has been reached, the parties' attorneys schedule a conference with the judge presiding over the case. At this time, they discuss the unresolved issues of the case. The judge usually tries to facilitate a full or partial settlement or at least lay the groundwork for what will occur at trial should a trial ultimately be necessary. If no resolution is reached, the divorce is scheduled for trial.
- Trial — Divorce trials are held without a jury but otherwise proceed in much the same manner as other civil trials. Each side offers documentary evidence, along with expert and fact witnesses relevant to whatever issue or issues are still in dispute. After both sides have presented their cases, the judge renders a decision and enters a final divorce decree.
- Appeal — Like other civil cases, a judge's final decision in a divorce case may be appealed to a higher court if either party's attorney identifies legal errors or abuses of discretion that adversely influenced the outcome for his or her client. Appeals remain an option that a good attorney should be willing to consider and pursue under proper circumstances.
We Are Your Partners For The Divorce Process
After years of experience litigating contentious divorces, our attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving understand how arduous the divorce process can be. We are straightforward with clients about when settlement is in their best interest, but we are always prepared to litigate when necessary to get a fair result. Call our office at 312-702-0862 and contact us online to schedule a private consultation.