Family Law Attorney

Dealing with an ending relationship can take a toll on the couple involved. Even if the decision to split is best for everyone, it does not make the ensuing process any easier to navigate. What happens during a divorce, and what can you expect? Explore the typical steps that eventually lead to a legal end to your marriage.


Depending on where you live, you may be legally required to live apart for a specific period before beginning a divorce. This legal separation must be documented and filed with the court. Even without this required step, many couples consider the moment their marriage ends as the date one or both move-out. Depending on the situation, one of you may remain in the marital home while the other moves, or you may both decide to move away and move forward.

Starting Legal Action

As stated above, your legal divorce proceedings may begin with a legal separation filing. The first step in many divorce actions is a filing of the petition to end the marriage. This document is drafted by an attorney and served on the other spouse. The petition sets out:

  • The names and addresses of the parties
  • The reason or grounds for divorce
  • Any legal terms that may impact the proceeding, like a prenuptial agreement

Once the petition is filed, the court is officially involved.

Ongoing Negotiations and Compromise

The court proceedings take on a life of their own, and the timing of the entire process differs from state to state. If you are required to be legally separated for a specified time, it may take longer to get your divorce. Regardless of this, after your divorce proceeding begins, you and your spouse must try and compromise on things like property and money division and child custody issues. If you cannot, the court will decide these things for you.

Final Divorce Decree

The last step in a divorce is the legal order from the judge ending the marriage. It restores the couple to the legal status of single, and a woman may choose to return to her maiden name. The final divorce papers are binding and can be enforced by either party. The decree sets out how the couple is handling their co-mingled items, like property, money, and debt. In this package are the custody decision, child support award, and parenting plan. If there is alimony, it will also be contained in this document.

The length of time it takes to get your final divorce depends on the laws where you live and how well you and your spouse can compromise. Get in contact with a divorce lawyer, like a family law attorney in Lake Forest, IL for more help.

Thank you to Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC. for their insight into family law and divorce.