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Lombard divorce lawyersOnce you have reached the decision to end your marriage, the real work must begin. You and your spouse will need to decide how to divide your property, how to make arrangements for your children, and how to adjust to your new post-divorce lives. Before you can get there, however, one of you will need to start the legal process of divorce by filing a petition for the dissolution of marriage at the county courthouse. Many clients approach us with questions about this, often wondering how important it is to be the one who file for divorce and whether it makes any difference at all.

Knowing the Law

The divorce process in Illinois is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), which is a comprehensive collection of statutes that address matters from choosing a venue to how parenting time matters will be decided by the court. A divorce, as a matter of law, is essentially a legal action used to dissolve a marital contract between two parties, and, as such, in every divorce, there is technically a plaintiff and a defendant. These terms, however, are far less important in a divorce than in other areas of the law, such as personal injury or criminal law, and, in fact, the IMDMA refers to the parties in a divorce as a plaintiff or defendant in just one paragraph.

The IMDMA does, however, make more references to a petitioner and a respondent. The petitioner is the spouse who initiates the proceedings by filing the divorce petition, making him or her formally the plaintiff. The non-filing spouse is the respondent and is given the opportunity to file an answer to the petition including motions of his or her own. For the remainder of the proceedings, each party maintains equal status as a party to the case, with the ability to file motions, request considerations, and present evidence. From a legal standpoint, therefore, there is little official advantage to filing for divorce before your spouse does.

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Lombard divorce attorneysIf you and your spouse are having serious problems in your marriage, one of you may decide to find another place to stay while you figure out what to do next. You might, for example, stay with a family member so that you can gather your thoughts about how to proceed. This practice is so commonplace that most couples would not even consider a divorce while still sharing a home.

Just because something is a common practice, however, does not mean that it is a legal requirement. In fact, it may come as surprise to learn that Illinois law does not require any period of separation in most divorce cases.

Knowing the Law

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Lombard divorce attorneysAlthough it is not required, the majority of women who get married change their last name to match that of their new husband. This can lead to an unexpected challenge if the marriage ends. If you are planning to end your marriage through divorce, you may be wondering what you should do about your last name. Some women choose to keep their married name post-divorce while others go back to their maiden name. Still, others come up with completely unique solutions to the dilemma of what to do with their last name as a newly-single woman. Whatever you decide, make sure to consider both the short-term and long-term effects on your personal and professional career.

The Decision to Keep Your Married Name Is Completely Your Own

Except in very rare circumstances, the choice of whether a divorcing woman changes her last name from her married name to something else is completely up to that woman. The vast majority of divorce decrees do not include requirements about names. The decision is a deeply personal one and can be influenced by a wide variety of factors. One thing many women consider is what the name symbolizes to them. For some, keeping their ex-husband’s name may bring up too many painful emotions. Other women are able to separate the name itself from the memories of their marriage or for other reasons do not feel negatively towards their married name.

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Lombard divorce attorneysIf you are considering ending your marriage, you probably have a thousand different concerns. Will I be too lonely living by myself? How will the divorce affect my children? How will I tell my friends and family? Unfortunately, there is no way of getting through a divorce pain-free, but there are some steps you can take to help you cope with the emotional burden of ending a marriage.

Strategy 1: Do Not Take It Personally

It is reasonable to assume that if your marriage was unhealthy, the divorce will not be the most cooperative or collaborative process either. Often, couples getting divorced continue to struggle with the same issues they struggled with when they were married. If your spouse attempts to sabotage efforts to end the divorce efficiently and amicably, do not take it personally. Someone acting out in childish or hurtful ways toward you does not reflect on your character; it reflects on theirs.

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Lombard family law attorneyWhen you are navigating the process of divorce, you and your spouse must be open and honest about your individual finances and those you share as a couple. Without both parties being forthcoming, you will not ever be able to divide your marital property as prescribed by Illinois law. Even the court will not be able to make such decisions without all of the necessary information.

Unfortunately, is not uncommon for one spouse to hide property and revenue streams in an effort to keep them away from the asset division process. While it may be possible to track down these assets before a judgment is entered, sometimes the property will remain hidden until the divorce has been finalized. If you have recently gotten divorced and you just found out that your ex was being deceptive during the process, you can still take action to remedy the situation.

Getting Your Divorce Reopened

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