How long does it take to get a divorce?
In a divorce, if both parties participate in the proceedings, there is usually an aspect of the case that is "contested” - an issue on which the parties do not agree. The dispute can be about almost any aspect of the case, such as: Who stays in the house? Will the house be sold? Who receives the proceeds? Who will have custody of the children? What times will be set for visitation with the children? Is maintenance (alimony) required to be paid? Who keeps the car? Who is responsible for payment of the bills and credit card debts? Who provides health insurance for the children? How much is child support? As you can see, there can be many issues to be resolved. However, if the parties can agree on everything, the case can generally conclude very quickly.
What is involved in a custody dispute?
The cases where the parties cannot agree on who should have custody of the children are frequently the most difficult, and they are very stressful for the parties involved, especially the children. Judges will frequently appoint an attorney for the children, and the parents are generally required to pay the children's attorney fees in addition to their own attorney fees. In order to assist the court in making custody decisions, home studies and investigations of each parent's home situation may be required. Additionally, to properly present their case, a parent may need to obtain the service of experts, such as psychologists, to persuade the court that placement of the children with him or her is in the best interest of the children. Consequently, these disputes can be very time-consuming and expensive.
My spouse has separate finances. How do I get information on accounts or property I don't know anything about?
Discovery is a legal process in which the parties obtain information from each other. In some cases, the parties are unaware of the income and assets of their spouse, or do not have other information to resolve their case. Typical means of discovery include "interrogatories," a series of questions sent to the other party to be answered, a "request to produce," which asks the other party to provide certain documents and records, and "subpoenas," which are used to get information or documents from people or companies not directly involved in the case, such as employers. Some courts, like Cook County, have attempted to simplify these matters by providing financial forms to complete.