What Can I Expect If File For Divorce in Lake County, IL?
At The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen, we represent people throughout Lake County who are going through a divorce. To sit down with an experienced family law attorney to learn more about your divorce, contact our office for a complimentary half-hour consultation.
- Anatomy of a Contested Divorce Chart
The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen has found it helpful to review a simplified chart of contested divorce proceedings. The chart is designed to better illustrate the steps in a divorce proceeding. Not all steps apply in all cases. However, the use of this chart has been helpful to our clients in understanding the divorce process. A more detailed text description of the divorce process is described on this page. Contact The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen if you would like to know more about how your situation will be applied to this process.
Back to top
- Documents Filed With the Court
The following documents may be filed with the Court in order to commence the divorce proceedings:
Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage
Petition for Temporary Relief (which can cover maintenance, child support, custody, contribution towards marital expenses)
Notice of Dissipation
Certificate of Attorney Cover Sheet
If the parties involved have minor children, the following document will also be filed:
Back to top
- Service of Process
In cases where the parties are fairly amicable and you think your spouse will accept service, we can ask the opposing party to sign a Waiver of Service of Process. This eliminates the necessity of formal service of process. In the event that your spouse refuses to sign the Waiver or in the event that you wish to proceed with serving the other party personally, the Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen will retain a process server to have the documents served in person.
Back to top
- Response to Petition for Dissolution
A party served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage will need to file an Appearance and Response to the Petition of Dissolution of Marriage unless the parties are able to resolve all issues and stipulate to a marital settlement agreement.
Back to top
- Settlement Topics
Before a divorce can be finalized, parties will have to make decisions and come to an agreement on the following issues (many will not apply if there are no minor children):
1. Custody (joint or sole custody [will you make decisions about health care, religion and education together?]; residential custody?)
2. How will future conflicts be handled?
4. Access to educational and medical records
5. Advise of grades and school functions
6. Parenting time schedule, logistics
7. Vacation schedules and travel
8. Grandparent visitation
9. Removing children from Illinois
10. Child Support
11. Medical, Dental, Vision expenses
12. Health Insurance for children
13. Life Insurance for children's benefit
14. Educational expenses for children
15. Extra-curricular and activity expenses for children
17. Your health insurance or conversion
18. Residence - ownership, future costs
19. Retirement benefits, IRAs, Profit-sharing, Pension, Social Security
20. Other property - bank accounts, stock/investments, personal property
21. Debt and liabilities
22. Income taxes
23. Attorney fees
Your case can be finalized when there is an agreement on all the pertinent issues, or when your case proceeds to trial and the judge decides the issues.
What is an Agreed Divorce?
This is the easiest, least expensive, and fastest way to get a divorce. If the parties can agree to all terms of their divorce, including custody, parenting time, child support, property issues, debt issues, spousal maintenance and other financial issues (if applicable), the parties can stipulate to all terms and obtain a divorce with a single court appearance. The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen can draft the divorce judgment with the settlement agreement, along with all the other necessary documents.
Where children are involved, we will also draft a parenting agreement that includes child custody and support, parenting time, holiday schedules, and allocation of expenses for insurance, uncovered medical expenses, child care, and extracurricular activities, etc. Lake County requires parents of minor children to take a parenting class before a divorce can be finalized, but depending on how soon the parties take the class, an agreed divorce can be completed in as soon as six to eight weeks. In the event that the parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding the issues, the divorce is considered contested.
Back to top
What if I have an issue that can’t wait until my litigation is settled?
- Temporary Orders
There is often a need to file a request for temporary orders with the Court. This is a request that the Court enter certain orders pending the final trial or other disposition of the proceedings. Parties may request temporary orders regarding custody and visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, temporary use of the house, attorney's fees, payment of debts, access to financial accounts, use of property and other issues.
Back to top
Do I have enough information to make informed decisions?
In many cases, parties do not know the other party’s income, or what assets or other property they or the other party have acquired, or the value of such property. In some cases, certain funds may be missing or unaccounted for. It may be necessary to conduct certain written “discovery.” This may include written questions, or interrogatories, that the other party needs to answer, such as listings of assets and other information. Discovery may also include requesting documents from the other party. Subpoenas may also be issued to obtain documents from banks, employers and other sources. In some cases, depositions are necessary. During depositions, questions are asked to the other party or witnesses under oath.
Back to top
Will my litigation ever end?
- Proceeding to Trial
The Court and our office will attempt to guide the parties towards a settlement if at all possible, but if the parties cannot reach an agreement, the matter will eventually proceed to trial. Before a trial, the Court will schedule a pretrial hearing or conference in which the Court addresses whether the parties have provided each other with all of the necessary information, and will generally schedule your case for trial.
Back to top
Trials in divorce cases do not involve juries. Rather, your case will generally be tried before an assigned judge. Trials in divorce matters are usually scheduled over two or more days, although in some cases more or less time is necessary. During trial, the parties present testimony, exhibits and other evidence that support their respective positions. After the trial is completed, the Court will enter its divorce decree, which sets forth its specific findings and orders.
Back to top
For more information about getting a divorce in Illinois, contact The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen today for a complimentary half-hour consultation.
Child Custody, Visitation and Parenting Rights in Illinois
The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen provides quality representation in custody cases where the parties were married, when the parties were never married (paternity cases), and where the parties want to change a prior court order. If you have questions about child custody, visitation or parenting rights, contact our office to schedule an appointment.
Visitation or Parenting Time FAQ
What custody options do I have?
Contrary to popular belief, there are many different options that you have regarding custody and parenting time. Such options all focus upon what is in your children’s “best interests.”
If the parents can agree upon what is in the best interests of their children between themselves, the Court will generally adopt such agreement. We suggest that you consult with an attorney with regard to the “Parenting Agreement” to make sure that you have covered all necessary terms.
Back to top
What Are The Types Of Custody?
There are generally two different variations of custody, referring to decision-making responsibility.
Sole Custody: This is generally where one of the parents makes all of the important decisions regarding the children (i.e. decisions regarding education, medical, religion), and where such parent has the majority of the time with the children.
Joint Custody: This is generally where both of the parents have rights with regard to decision-making.
When “custody” is referred to elsewhere, it is generally used in terms of parenting time.
Residential Custody: The parent with more time with the children is sometimes called the "primary residential parent." The other parent has scheduled or flexible parenting time per the Parenting Agreement.
Shared Custody: This is where the parents would have equal time with the children (or very close to equal time).
Back to top
What does a custody evaluation entail?
The Court may order (but is not required to order) an evaluation to assist the Court in determining what is in the children’s best interests.
In an evaluation, a mental health provider will interview the parents and may then interview the children. The mental health provider may contact other persons that have a significant role in the children’s lives (i.e. teachers, etc.). The mental health provider may then provide recommendations regarding custody, parenting time and other matters to the Court. Unlike mediation, the matters addressed during the evaluation are not confidential and may be addressed to the court. There is a charge to the parties for this service. Sometimes the costs are divided equally or in some proportion. Other times, one of the parties is ordered to pay the entire amount.
Back to top
Can I change custody later?
A parent can request that custody or parenting time be modified, but the court will consider custody changes only after two years or more after the date of the entry of a final custody order, unless the child is seriously endangered. Sometimes a parent would like to change joint custody to sole custody, or vice versa. Sometimes a parent just wants more parenting time with the children. Unless both parties agree to a modification, the court may modify visitation orders when to do so would serve the best interests of the children. However, for any modification that would restrict a parent’s visitation rights, the court must find that the visitation as it exists seriously endangers the children’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health. Restrictions would include a termination of visitation, a prohibition on overnight visits, a supervision requirement, or a specification of the location visitation is to take place. A child’s reluctance to participate in visitation is not sufficient.
Sometimes a change in parenting time or custody is warranted because the children want to live primarily with the other parent. Sometimes such change is warranted because of the children’s ages and changed needs. Sometimes parenting time needs to be changed because one of the parents has moved away. If the parties agree to such change, the Court will generally adopt any agreements. Again, the parents should consult with an attorney to make sure all necessary terms are covered.
While Illinois statutes entitle parents to visitation, except under certain circumstances, there are no laws requiring parental visitation. The rationale is that it is probably not in a child’s best interest to spend time with a parent that views the visit as a punishment or obligation.
Back to top
Can I Move With The Children, Or Can the Other Parent Move With The Children?
A parent with sole or residential/primary physical custody can generally relocate with the children within the state without court permission. However, if a parenting agreement puts reasonable limitations on a parent’s choice of residence, it may be upheld by the court.
Illinois is one of the most difficult states from which to remove a child to another state. The parent must prove that it would be in the best interests of the child. Some factors the court will consider are the likelihood for enhancing the general quality of life for both the custodial parent and the children, the motives of the parent in seeking the move, the motives of the other parent in resisting the move, and the probability that the children can maintain a healthy and close relationship with both parents, as well as other family members. Visitation rights of the noncustodial parent are considered to see if a realistic and reasonable visitation schedule can be reached if the move is allowed.
Removal petitions are not easily or routinely granted, and the case-by-case nature of the courts’ analysis makes forecasting a court’s ruling on removal litigation difficult. You should always consult with an attorney before moving with the children. You should always consult with an attorney if you think that the other parent is planning to move with the children and if such move may affect your rights or your parenting time.
Back to top
How Old Does A Child Have To Be Before He Or She Can Decide Who He Or She Lives With?
In Illinois, the court may inquire with which parent the child prefers to reside, but that preference is not binding on the court, nor is the court required to ask. Judges generally do not interview children although they have the discretion to do so. Judges generally prefer that a mental health expert provide information regarding the children’s wishes.
While age fourteen is sometimes stated as an age where children can make rational preferences, the court can inquire as to the inclination of a child of any age.
Back to top
What is Parenting Time?
This is the same thing as “visitation.” The Court now generally uses the term “parenting time” instead of the term “visitation” or “access.” Such terms are generally interchangeable.
Back to top
What Are Guidelines for Visitation or Guidelines for Parenting Time?
Though there are guidelines for establishing parenting time, every case is different. These guidelines are not set in stone, nor do they state which parent (i.e. mother or father) is considered the primary parent. Rather, the Court looks at what is in the children’s best interests. Sometimes it is best that one of the parents is the primary residential parent. Sometimes it is best if the parties have equal, or shared time.
Back to top
What Does The Court Look At In Determining Who Should Get Custody And How Much Parenting Time Should The Other Party Receive?
Illinois has statutes (rules) that set forth specific factors that the Court should address in deciding the best interests of the children. There are other factors, which may not be written in the statutes, but may be important. These factors include but are not limited to the following.
Whether either of the parties has primarily provided the care for the children in the past.
What the parents want and why.
What the children want and why.
How the children get along with each of the parents, siblings, and others.
How the children are doing in each household, and how they do in school and the community.
Whether the parents use appropriate discipline and reinforcement.
The mental health of each of the parents.
The mental health of the children.
The physical health of each of the parents.
The physical health of the children.
Whether the parents have any problems which effect the children’s best interests - For example - drug use, alcohol abuse, physical abuse of the children or the other parent, sexual offenses or criminal history in some cases.
Which parent is more likely to work well with the other parent regarding parenting time and other issues.
If psychologists or other mental health providers have been involved, the Court will consider recommendations from such experts.
Whether one of the parties is attempting to alienate the children or is engaging in other inappropriate behavior.
Whether there are events or factors which may endanger the children.
The terms of a parent’s military family-care plan that a parent must complete before deployment if a parent is a member of the United States Armed Forces who is being deployed.
Back to top
What Is A Child Representative Or Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)?
In cases involving the support, custody, visitation, education, parentage, property interest, or general welfare of a minor child, the court may, on its own or following petition by a party, appoint an attorney for the child, to provide independent legal counsel for the child.
A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) investigates the facts of a case and interviews the child and all the parties. Then the GAL can testify or submit a written report to the court with recommendations according to the best interests of the child.
A child representative reviews the facts and circumstances of the case, meets with the child and all the parties, investigates facts of the case, and advocates the best interests of the child. The child representative has the same authority and obligation to participate in the litigation as does the parents’ attorneys. With evidence-based legal arguments, the child representative supports a position for purposes of a settlement conference.
The costs for a GAL or child representative may be paid by either or both parents, as ordered by the court.
Illinois Family Law Attorneys: Protective Orders
At any time, if you are in imminent danger, call 911 for assistance.
At The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen, our lawyers represent people dealing with protective orders and domestic violence. To sit down with an attorney to discuss any of the following issues, contact our office to schedule a complimentary half-hour consultation.
The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen provides representation regarding all forms of “Protective Orders” and “Restraining Orders.” The terms “Protective Orders” and “Restraining Orders” are general terms, which include the more specific types of orders, described above.
The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen represents persons who desire to obtain a Court order as a result of domestic violence.
The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen also defends persons who have had false or exaggerated claims made against them in order to defeat or “quash” such protective orders, or in order to have such orders modified where the orders are unreasonable.
The information set forth on this website is not intended to cover all aspects of protective orders, but is designed to provide valuable information one should consider when obtaining or defending against a protective order.
Back to top
Orders of Protection
Back to top
What is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a Court order that precludes the defendant from engaging in certain acts, which may affect your safety or security. Such person may be precluded from contacting you altogether. Or, if you do not wish to preclude all contact, a person may be limited to only contacting you in writing or by other selected mode of communication. An Order of Protection may apply to specific locations such as where you reside, work, attend school, etc. An Order of Protection may grant the victim of domestic violence exclusive use and possession of the parties’ common residence, and the other party may be precluded from going to such residence altogether pending further court order. The offending party may be ordered to do other things by the court to help ensure the victim’s safety, including surrendering firearms and other weapons, and may be ordered to complete a court-approved domestic violence program.
Orders of Protection are the most common type of restraining order in family law cases for the reason that they apply where parties are married, were previously married, resided together, have a child together, have had an intimate relationship, are related by blood, are pregnant by the other party, or have another type of relationship defined by statute. Orders of Protection are governed by Illinois Statute 750 ILCS 60/101, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986.
An Order of Protection is a civil order (i.e. it is not a criminal proceeding). A restraining order in Lake County can generally remain in effect for as long as two years. However, the judge has the discretion to issue a restraining order for as little time or as much time as he or she determines is appropriate. The petitioner can renew the restraining order near the time that the order is scheduled to expire. Please note there is a one-month grace period to renew and if more time than this passes the petitioner will have to start the entire application process over again. In Lake County, a restraining order may only be renewed one time. After the one renewal, the petitioner may reapply for a new restraining order.
Back to top
Why do you suggest I get a restraining order?
Restraining orders enable law enforcement agencies to intervene at the earliest indications of threatening, harassing, or otherwise violent behavior. Unfortunately, isolated threatening acts, like walking in front of an estranged spouse's home in the middle of the night with a baseball bat in hand, may not be an offense with legal recourse in Illinois without a restraining order. However, were such threatening acts to occur in the face of an active restraining order prohibiting all contact, domestic abuse, and harassment, then law enforcement officers would be able to make an arrest.
Back to top
Where Do I obtain an Order of Protection?
With certain exceptions, a person can request an Order of Protection at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in Waukegan. You must file a petition which details the reasons you need an order of protection. This should be as detailed as possible, with dates, times, witness information, and verbatim quotes.
You will generally be provided a hearing before the Court on the same day that you file your request for an Order of Protection. The hearing will generally involve just you and the judge (unless you bring witnesses). The other party does not have an opportunity to present evidence (and will generally not even know you are obtaining the order) unless and until he or she later requests a hearing after the initial Order of Protection is issued by the Court. If a divorce is pending in Lake County, the application for the restraining order should be applied for and evaluated by the judge in the court in which the divorce is pending.
What Do I Need To Prove To Obtain An Order Of Protection?
A Petition for Order of Protection is generally filed by a party who has been or may be subjected to domestic violence, or by a parent, legal guardian or custodian of a minor who has been or may be subjected to domestic violence. It is important to note that “domestic violence” does not mean that a person has to be subjected to physical violence or that a person has to prove he or she was injured.
The Court needs to only have “reasonable cause to believe” that a person has engaged in domestic violence, or may engage in domestic violence, in order to issue an Order of Protection. To keep the Order of Protection in place, an evidentiary hearing is conducted days after a temporary Order of Protection is issued.
It is recommended that you be very specific in your Petition for Order of Protection. A Court may not allow you to bring up additional matters during your testimony if they were not addressed in your written petition. There is generally not enough room on the forms provided to set forth all relevant information if you have experienced numerous acts of domestic violence. Thus, you may want to consider writing a separate “attachment” document prior to going to Court and attaching such document to your petition.
Back to top
What Is Considered “Domestic Violence”?
“Abuse” means physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation. Reasonable discipline of children is not considered abuse. “Physical abuse” includes sexual abuse, sleep deprivation, and knowing or reckless use of physical force, confinement or restraint or other conduct that creates an immediate risk of physical harm. One does not necessarily have to prove physical violence to obtain an Order of Protection.
Some forms of “domestic violence” are obvious, i.e. striking another person. Other forms of “domestic violence” may not involve physical violence, but may involve verbal threats, harassment, stalking and other actions. The Illinois Revised Statutes provide that domestic violence includes (but is not limited to) the following:
Dangerous crimes against children
Threatening or intimidating a person
Threatening to cause injury to a person or serious damage to property
Assault (intentional or reckless)
Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of injury
Knowingly touching another person with intent to injure, insult, or to provoke
Custodial interference without lawful right to keep a child from the other party (exceptions may apply)
Knowingly restraining a person from leaving (unlawful imprisonment)
Criminal trespass (breaking in or refusing to leave another’s property)
Intentionally damaging someone else’s property
Recklessly displaying a weapon
Use of a telephone or other communication to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend (may include obscene language)
Anonymous telephone calls
Stalking or following a person with no legitimate purpose
Surveillance of another person for no legitimate purpose
Makes false reports to a law enforcement, social service agency or possibly other sources
Emotional abuse to a vulnerable adult or minor
These descriptions of “domestic violence” are abbreviated and for informational purposes only. Some acts are obviously considered domestic violence. Other acts may require additional statutory proof (such as intent). It is advisable to consult with an attorney prior to proceeding to a contested evidentiary hearing regarding an Order of Protection or other type of protective order.
Back to top
Do I Need An Attorney To Obtain Or Defend Against An Order Of Protection?
You are not required to retain an attorney to obtain an Order of Protection, or to defend yourself against one.
When initially obtaining an Order of Protection, the hearing only involves you and the Judge (unless you bring witnesses with you). The other party is not present. Thus, the need for an attorney is less at this stage. However, additional hearings increase the considerations for at least consulting with an attorney.
If the Order of Protection is against you, and if you desire to have the Order of Protection modified or dismissed, it is advisable to at least consult with an attorney. Although an Order of Protection is not a criminal matter, the repercussions for even minor violations of the order can be significant. Moreover, employers and others may conduct public records searches regarding whether you presently have or have previously had an order of protection against you. In the modern world of technology and accessibility of information, challenging the Order of Protection may be very important to you and your future.
Back to top
Can Children Be Included In An Order Of Protection?
On some occasions, a party includes one or more children in the Order Of Protection. However, such an order is improper unless the Court has reasonable cause to believe that either:
Physical harm has resulted or may result to the child, or
The alleged acts of domestic violence involved the child.
An Order of Protection which affects a person’s parenting time is still valid and will control over the parenting time order pending further order of the issuing court or the Family Court.
Back to top
How Do I Get An Order Of Protection Modified Or Dismissed?
It is generally not too difficult for a party to obtain a temporary Emergency Order of Protection against another party for the reason that the Court has only heard one party’s version of facts at the time the order is issued. For purposes of this section, the alleged victim is referred to as the plaintiff, and the alleged wrongdoer is referred to as the defendant.
To extend a temporary Order of Protection, a hearing is generally scheduled within twenty-one days. It is in the Court’s ultimate discretion whether to uphold the order after the hearing, or to modify or dismiss the order.
The following are some areas that are often addressed during the hearing by (or on behalf of) a defendant in order to modify or dismiss an Order of Protection:
The allegations are false or exaggerated.
There is no objective evidence of the alleged acts other than the plaintiff’s testimony.
The parties subsequently engaged in romantic acts (in order to show that the plaintiff was not afraid of the defendant).
The plaintiff continued to contact the defendant despite the Order of Protection.
The plaintiff never called the police.
The plaintiff took a long time to obtain the Order of Protection (suggesting that the person was not afraid of the other person).
The Order of Protection was filed around the same time as the filing for divorce or other legal proceeding, thus suggesting that the plaintiff obtained the Order of Protection for strategy reasons.
The plaintiff is a dishonest person and has engaged in dishonest acts (including not telling the truth in obtaining the Order of Protection).
The plaintiff did not seek medical attention.
If children are included in the Order of Protection, establishing that the defendant has never harmed his or her children.
Both parties engaged in the altercation at issue.
Back to top
Can The Plaintiff Voluntarily Dismiss The Order Of Protection?
A plaintiff may voluntarily request that the Court dismiss or modify an Order of Protection he or she has obtained against another person. The plaintiff will need to go back to the Court that issued such order to make such request in person. The decision whether to modify or dismiss the Order of Protection is ultimately in the Court’s final discretion.
Back to top
Does An Order Of Protection Guarantee My Safety?
Even when a person obtains and holds an Order of Protection, the media regularly reports domestic violence incidents despite such orders. If you feel that the other person may violate the Order of Protection (or if he or she has violated such order), you should call the police and alert them. You should consider providing a copy of your Order of Protection to your employer, your apartment manager, your children’s school and other places you commonly frequent. You should also keep a copy of the Order Of Protection with you at all times. You should take whatever additional lawful measures possible to protect yourself and your loved ones. There are shelters and other services for victims of domestic violence (see link to A Safe Place in Resources).
The domestic violence that led to you obtaining an Order of Protection may also constitute a crime. Criminal enforcement mechanisms may be more effective than merely obtaining an Order of Protection. Thus, in addition to obtaining an Order of Protection, you should consider contacting the police and asking that charges be filed with regard to any domestic violence or violations of an Order of Protection.
Back to top
Does My Order Of Protection Apply In Different States?
All States within the United States are required to recognize a valid Order of Protection. If you relocate to or reside in a different state (or even if visiting for an extended period), you should contact and provide a copy of your Order of Protection to the law enforcement agency there, and make sure you fill out any forms required by the law enforcement agency.
Back to top
Legal Representation in your Family Law Matter
The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen attorneys will be happy to discuss your options with you regarding obtaining an Order of Protection or other potential alternatives. Contact our office to schedule an appointment to learn about this and other Family Law issues.
How long can I expect my litigation to last?
You have the option to voluntarily withdraw from litigation, but your case will not be completed until you come to an agreement with the other party, or until your case proceeds to a hearing or trial. The courts are set up to provide every opportunity for you and the other party to come to an agreement among yourselves. This may mean numerous court dates and continuances that make the process seem unending. You can be assured, however, that The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen will make every attempt to facilitate an equitable agreement or move your case towards completion, but ultimately it will be up to you and the other party to decide to bring your case to a faster conclusion.
These are only a few of the major questions that our clients often ask. The Law Office of Deanna J. Bowen is more than happy to answer any questions you may have during your consultation with us.
from a specialized divorce lawyer
in Lake County.
to schedule your complimentary initial consultation