The Coronavirus pandemic has led to the temporary closure of civil courts in Illinois. To serve the people of the state, many civil matters have been conducted online when possible – including divorce proceedings. This has allowed many people to dissolve their marriages without leaving their homes.
How does virtual divorce work?
As reported by ABC 7 Eyewitness News, the process begins by filing online. A judge then decides if depositions need to be held and if court proceedings can be held online.
"It’s actually good because you don’t have to be in the same room with people that you don’t really want to,” said one Chicago man who recently got a divorce. “So it was actually a really positive experience.”
He noted there were downsides, such as not being able to talk with his attorney in private when needed.
While the virtual proceedings are a bit different, the major steps for getting a divorce remain the same. You will still need to:
- Verify your residence – At least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least 90 days.
- File a petition for divorce – A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must still be filled out and filed with the local circuit clerk.
- Notify your spouse – Your spouse must be notified of the petition and proof of service of process is required.
- Determine assets – This involves determining if houses, cars, bank accounts, etc. were co-owned or separate.
- Negotiate – Issues such as alimony, child custody and child support will need to be worked out.
- Living apart – “Irreconcilable differences” must be demonstrated in order to obtain a no-fault divorce. The easiest way to do this is live apart for six months before divorce is finalized.
- Appear in court – At least one court appearance (either in person or virtually) is necessary to finalize a divorce. Contested divorces may require multiple court appearances.
Do I need a lawyer to get divorced in Illinois?
The short answer is no. There is no requirement to have a lawyer when getting a divorce in the state. Some people may consider pursuing divorce on their own, especially if they are facing financial issues.
It is strongly advisable to have an experienced divorce attorney handling your case, however. Divorce cases can be complex and it’s important to have a lawyer who knows the laws and who will work to resolve issues cost-effectively and equitably.
In general, the more complicated the divorce, the less likely it is that you will be able to resolve things with one virtual court appearance. Complicating factors can include:
- Property division
- High-asset property division
- Business division
- Parenting issues
- Child custody
- Child support
- Child relocation
- Spousal maintenance
Is virtual divorce right for me?
That’s a question that is best decided after talking to an experienced divorce attorney. An attorney can review your situation and answer any questions you have about what to expect.
The divorce attorneys at Courtney Clark Law, P.C. in Belleville have a collective 40 years of experience. We know how to effective address the many issues that can arise during divorce and devise a legal strategy that works best for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.