Process & Procedure
- ATTORNEY FEES
A simple dissolution with no children and either little property or agreements on all property, including court costs is about $2,000.00. As disagreements, negotiations, and communication with your attorney increase, so do the costs. It would not be uncommon for a contested divorce involving children and significant property disputes, to cost up to $25,000.00. Therefore, be mindful of your attorney’s fees and the issues that truly. You decide whether resolving an issue is a matter of principle, or economics.
ATTORNEY FEES – Can the other party be ordered to pay yours? Yes, but probably not.
Contempt is a generic term that has multiple meanings. A person is not in contempt simply because they have caused some infraction that could be considered contemptuous. A person is only in contempt when a Judge specifically orders it. The remedy is the resolution of the particular issue that may be contemptuous. Examples include violations of visitation schedules and late payment of child support. Once the isolated matter that caused the problem is resolved, it ordinarily does not have an effect on any other parts of the case.
A deposition is a question and answer session, with the witness under oath, in the presence of a court reporter who takes down every word of testimony. The questions are asked by one of the attorneys representing the other side.
Discovery is the exchange of written questions and answers (Interrogatories) and the exchange of documents (Request for Production of Documents). It is a necessary information gathering component of a divorce or custody matter. Requests are made that each party provide income information, pay-stubs, tax returns, investment values, pension and retirement values, checking and savings account records, credit card statements, and lists of personal property. Sometimes one spouse has historically been in charge of finances and the other may have little knowledge of the marriage’s financial condition. The discovery process helps to answer questions on values, intentions, custodial preferences, and allow each party knowledge and access to the couple’s finances, debts, and expenditures. In preparation for a divorce, compile the last three years of: income tax returns, pay stubs or any other sources of income, savings account statements, checking account statements, health insurance and medical bills, credit card statements, photos of the home and personal property.
- GROUNDS for DIVORCE
As of January 2016, Grounds for divorce in Illinois no longer exist. There were formerly various requirements as to the proof necessary to establish grounds, but the only reason, and necessary allegation for a divorce, is that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The issues that may have caused, or lent themselves to the reason for the divorce, can still be helpful to prove other contested issues. For example, adultery is not grounds for divorce, but if a parent spent time away from the child to spend that time in an extra-marital affair, that choice to spend time away from the child could be useful in arguing who should be the primary decision maker.
The court only has to find that “Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable
breakdown of the marriage and the court determines that efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.” 750 ILCS 5/401(a)
Advising the other party prior to taking a particular action and giving notice to the other party of school and extracurricular activities of a minor child is an important element of Joint Parental Decision Making. You cannot fault a party for not showing up to a baseball game or a Christmas play if they were not made aware of it in the first place. Proving that the other party was made aware is also a necessary element in showing that they have notice and then voluntarily chose to not participate in the action or event. The child should not be used to pass notice of events between the parties. It is not the burden of the child to provide information on activities to the other party. A letter, e-mail, or, a text message is, at a minimum, a good way to pass notice of an event to the other party. Websites that have school and extracurricular activity schedules allows parents to find that information out for themselves. Use www.ourchildinfo.com as a secure, private, and documented method of providing information to both parents.
- SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE
The Court can require a settlement conference, or one can be set upon the request of either party. It is an informal hearing at which the parties and their attorneys appear, meet in a back room at the courthouse, and attempt to resolve the case. It is possible to agree on some issues and leave others unresolved. Is it generally a good idea to attempt at least one settlement conference. At a subsequent hearing, the court will decide the unresolved matters.
- SOCIAL MEDIA and EMAIL
Do not post anything online, E-mail or text messages that you don’t want read in court. Posting negative comments or even general comments on social networking sites can easily multiply into larger problems. If a negative conversation emerges and any children at issue happen to see it, it certainly does not help to settle any pending custodial issues and more likely than not causes a detriment, delay, and bad feelings between the involved parties. It is best to keep your animosity to yourself for the benefit of children. Online accounts are often available to the attorneys and Judges as well. Likewise, leaving a recorded voice message or a text message is a clear implication that you know you are being recorded and that recording can be admissible in evidence. This is the converse of you or someone else not knowing they are being recorded.
- VERBAL AGREEMENTS
Verbal agreements are not worth the paper they are printed on. Common verbal agreements include a rearrangement of a visitation schedule or a modification of child support. An agreement to modify times or exchange visitation weekends should at least be in writing, at best should be confirmed by attorneys. Don’t assume your ex will reciprocate on a visitation switch if based on a verbal agreement. It can be difficult and costly to enforce a verbal agreement. Court’s will often not enforce or even recognize verbal agreements to modify child support. Use www.ourchildinfo.com to coordinate and create permanent documentary evidence of a verbal agreement.