I’ve Decided to Divorce, So What’s Next?
Uncontested Divorce Mediation
Posted February 7, 2019
When you’re considering the divorce process, the details can be mind-boggling. You know that you will have to find new living patterns and to divide up the assets and belongings acquired during the marriage. Every step in the divorce process has the potential to be emotional. However, some couples are fortunate in the sense that they have grown apart and recognize that divorce is best for them both. In some cases, they have already begun to live apart and/or to pursue separate romantic relationships. The spouses may not feel an urgency to divorce, but there is an understanding that the time for commencing the legal proceedings is near. Then, there are the couples on the other end of the spectrum who know every major decision is going to be a potential battle, and this will become even more difficult if they have minor children. In this post, we explain the early stages in the divorce process, which readers should review before preparing for a divorce mediation in Chicago.
If divorce is something that you have thought about and talked about for years, you may have a road map in your head of what it will look like. There is a lot of anxiety to address in the early stages of divorce for people who are unfamiliar with the process. Kudos to you and your partner if you believe you have an uncontested divorce in Chicago. Loosely taken, this term refers to the idea that the spouses won’t try to stop the process from moving forward and they must work to resolve the legal issues.
Common Stages for Beginning an Uncontested Divorce
Two early stages are crucial to complete before scheduling divorce mediation in Chicago — filing a petition and filing an answer.
Filing a Petition
There must be one partner in the marriage who will take the first step. You will go down to the courthouse, so to speak, or go online and file your petition for a dissolution of marriage. If you take this first step, you become the court’s client. You are the person requesting the proceedings, and then the court has the obligation to move your case through the family law system. Some divorces will begin as uncontested, but then they will change because one or both spouses secure conflicting legal advice from their attorneys. They think they agree on everything, but the sticking points change the process into something more complicated. Therefore, consider that there is an advantage to being the spouse who files the initial petition.
Filing an Answer
The petition for a dissolution of marriage must be served on your spouse. Then, state law will give your spouse a fixed number of days to file a response to the petition. In the first petition, it is common to include details such as the grounds for the divorce, temporary arrangements for child support and alimony, and child time-sharing schedules. Your spouse will definitely be at a disadvantage throughout the court proceedings if he or she does not file a timely response. When your spouse files an answer, he or she may counter everything you’ve proposed in your first petition, especially regarding finances and custody of minor children, or he or she may agree with some points and not others. The judge assigned to your case will need to review both the petition and the answer and grant a temporary support order. This will provide for financial support and child custody arrangements until the case is resolved. The petition and the answer may or may not resolve the issue of where each spouse will live as the case unfolds.
Both you and your spouse may not have all documents ready to file with the court in the petition and the response. Examples are details of stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, annuities, and life insurance. If you did not provide all financial documents in the first round, you now have time to complete your additional filings. Copies of these documents must be provided to your spouse and to his or her attorney.
Whether you have an attorney or not, this stage occurs prior to divorce mediation in Chicago. Both spouses have the opportunity to request additional documentation from the other side. For example, you may believe your spouse has had a change in income since your latest tax return. You may believe that you are not receiving enough support for yourself and/or the minor children. You may request specific documentation from your spouse’s employer to verify his or her most current income. In cases in which one or both spouses earn bonuses, profit sharing, and other forms of compensation, fluctuations in income within the year could potentially influence how alimony and child support get assigned at the conclusion of the case. This stage of the divorce is not as crucial if you don’t have contested issues. However, it is a time period that allows for collecting more evidence of the income, assets, and specifics of the minor children’s care that will arise at the mediation.
Moving Forward to Mediation
The process seems straightforward enough. You and your spouse must disclose all financial assets and sources of income. You must work out the details of how to support the children, transport them back and forth between two households, and divide the time for their school holidays and vacations. Some children also have special needs for education or healthcare that must be considered, including who will keep the children on each type of insurance policy. As you prepare for an uncontested divorce in Chicago, remember that it is in your best interest and that of your minor children to advance through the final negotiations amicably and in a timely manner. Following a successful divorce mediation in Chicago, both partners can move forward with building their own lives, completing the healing process, adjusting their finances to a single income, and assisting their children with living in separate households. Getting a divorce is not easy, but it is possible to de-mystify the process by focusing on each step that must be completed and making decisions along the way that are acceptable to both parties. In the end, there will be some ways you feel like you’ve lost in the negotiations, but there will be other ways that you’ve clearly won. The judge will sign a divorce settlement agreement that provides for the interests of both parties without giving all economic benefits to one spouse or the other. A notable exception to an equitable distribution of assets occurs when one spouse wants the other spouse to take all assets in the divorce for the benefit of the children who will be in their full-time care. For more details about uncontested divorces in Chicago, please read about our services at SplitSimple.com.
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