Going to Court to FINALIZE your Illinois Divorce: What to Expect when you go before the Judge!

You have been told to be in court at a certain date, time and courtroom to finalize your divorce. The day that you have been nervously waiting for! Unlike when you got married and had already been to several weddings, you have probably never seen a divorce being "done"; its not something that people typically send out invitations to! More than likely, you are feeling a little uncomfortable and are not sure what to expect. Relax and Read On....

There are generally three different ways that your divorce made it to court: by agreement, by default, or for trial. This article will address finalizing your divorce by agreement or by default judgment, and not by trial as that is very different. 

If you are getting divorced by mutual agreement, you and your spouse have entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement. The process will be a little bit different depending on the person who initiated the divorce. The Petitioner who filed for divorce must be in court to answer questions that will first be asked by his or her lawyer. This is done mainly for the benefit of the judge who must make sure that legally, all requirements have been met and that everything is in order.  The questions will go over facts (names, places, dates, children, grounds for divorce) and then more questions will be designed to confirm that the Petitioner understands, approves of and intends to follow the terms of the Marital Settlement Agreement.  These questions can come from either Petitioner's lawyer, the (other) Respondent's lawyer or from the judge directly.  The Respondent usually comes to court too and may have fewer questions to answer only because the Petitioner "goes first" and already confirmed the date of marriage, names and ages of kids, and so on. 

Once the judge has heard the testimony and reviewed the documents submitted by the attorneys, the judge will be ready to grant your divorce (assuming that everything is in order) by signing a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, also known as the divorce decree. This means that you are legally divorced. 

If you are going to court on a "default" because your spouse has chosen to not participate in the process, the process will be similar, minus the presence of another lawyer and the person whom you are divorcing. As an additional step, you will be proving that you are entitled to a default divorce. 

If you are about to go to court for your divorce case in Illinois and do not know what to expect, please ask your lawyer to go over it with you in advance. This will help you relax before getting finally divorced. If you do not have a lawyer and are going to court yourself, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney beforehand to make sure that you are prepared and that all of the paperwork is in order because if it is not, you might be denied your divorce or end up having to "fix it" later (expensive). The divorce laws changed in 2016 and child support laws were revamped effective July 2017. Your paperwork is in order and the judges have to hold everyone to the same standard as lawyers, even if you are not a lawyer. You don't want any surprises while you are in court! Carol O'Connor Cadiz may be available for consultation if you are not represented by a lawyer and are divorcing in Cook County, DuPage County, or Kane County, Illinois. Call 630 250-8813 to schedule a confidential consultation.