Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage)


At the Law Offices of Joshua E. Stern in Evanston and Chicago, we understand that you probably never thought you would need to hire a divorce lawyer. That’s why we take our responsibility so seriously to represent you in an Illinois divorce—and to guide you in understanding the divorce process.

When a marriage breaks down or the married couple is no longer happy, sometimes the best course of action is to divorce. Technically called a dissolution of marriage, divorce is the legal process that dissolves the bonds of matrimony by unwinding the couple’s intertwined finances and affairs. It also ends the many rights acquired by way of marriage.

Divorces can grow complicated and stressful, and it’s easy to lose sight of what is actually occurring. In simple terms, the legal process of divorce covers three things:

  1. Dividing What We Have
  2. Dividing What We’re Going to Get
  3. Parenting the Children

How are divorces resolved in Illinois?

While each divorce is as unique as the spouses in a marriage, all divorce proceedings generally involve some combination of:

Some cases may also be resolved amicably.

There is no “best” method for resolving a divorce. Ultimately, the path taken to finalize a divorce depends on the level of communication between the spouses and their contested issues. At the Law Offices of Joshua E. Stern in Evanston and Chicago, we encourage amicable divorce resolutions whenever possible—but will fight vigorously in court if needed.

Contact an Evanston Divorce Law Firm

For cases in Chicago, Evanston and the surrounding suburbs, we are happy to discuss your divorce case and provide our opinion on how your case should be resolved. Contact the Law Offices of Joshua E. Stern for a free consultation at any time by calling (847) 868-9584. We can meet with you in Evanston or Chicago, or at another location.

The process of divorce in Illinois unwinds the couple’s intertwined finances and affairs, including:

  • Property and Debts — When a couple marries, they create a “marital estate” under which they jointly own debts and assets acquired during the marriage. Upon divorce, the couple divides up the estate. More >
  • Taxes — After divorce, a couple can no longer file their taxes jointly—so any outstanding tax liabilities need to be addressed and resolved.
  • Attorneys’ Fees — If one spouse is unable to pay the divorce attorney’s fees, or these fees were greater than could reasonably be expected, the court may order the other spouse to contribute.

A divorce judgment will also cover what you get after the divorce:

  • Maintenance (Alimony) — A payment from one spouse to the other; it’s intended to help the recipient-spouse maintain the same standard of living had the marriage not dissolved. More >
  • Child Support and Expenses — A payment made to the parent with the majority parenting time to assist with the financial burden of raising the couple’s and expenses for living costs. More >
  • Life Insurance — A life insurance policy may be used to insure a spouse’s financial obligation extending beyond the date of divorce.
  • Health Insurance — If one spouse has been providing health insurance coverage for the family, he or she may need to provide continuing coverage under COBRA.

If a couple has children, their divorce must address the issue of parental allocation, which includes:

  • Parental Decision-Making Authority — While parents can agree to divide decision-making authority as they see fit, courts typically divide parental authority for education, religion, medical and extracurricular activities. Thus a parent can share or have sole decision-making authority for each of those four areas. More >
  • Parenting Time — Also known as visitation, parenting time is how the time each parent spends with their children is divided. More >

All divorce proceedings generally involve some combination of out-of-court negotiations, in-court litigation and mediation:

  • Negotiated Divorce Settlements — Negotiations are discussions aimed at reaching a settlement. They occur at all stages of a case and allow the parties to bypass needless conflict. More >
  • Divorce Litigation — Litigation is the process of bringing an unresolved issue before a judge and requesting a ruling. The vast majority of cases do not proceed to trial. More >
  • Attorney-Assisted Mediation — Mediation involves bringing an unresolved issue before a trained mediator to assist with the negotiation and resolution of the matter. More >

There is no “best” method for resolving a divorce. Ultimately, the path taken to finalize a divorce depends on the level of communication between the spouses and their contested issues.

For a free consultation, call the Law Offices of Joshua E. Stern at (847) 868-9584 or contact us.