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Wheaton, IL 60189
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.
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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for appealsMost divorcing spouses hope to avoid going to trial. They may attempt to reach an agreement about unresolved divorce issues through their attorneys, with help from a third-party mediator, or through the collaborative law process. Unfortunately, not every couple is able to reach a settlement outside of court. During divorce litigation, a judge hears arguments and evidence from both sides and then issues a judgment. If your divorce judgment did not turn out the way you had hoped, you may wonder what your options are for appealing the court’s decision.

When Should I Seek an Appeal?

Many people assume that they can file an appeal if they disagree with the terms of their divorce judgment. However, successfully appealing a divorce judgment is a complex legal pursuit that is only possible under certain conditions. A person cannot appeal a divorce simply because he or she is unhappy with the outcome of the case. Circuit court decisions, including divorce judgments, may only be appealed if there is a possibility that the decision resulted from errors of law. Examples of situations in which an appeal may be justified include:

  • The judge made his or her decision based on incomplete or false information
  • There was a procedural mistake that influenced the outcome of the case
  • The decision was based on the judge’s incorrect interpretation or application of the law
  • Evidence was used which was inadmissible or insufficient

What Does the Appeals Process Involve?

If there are reasons to warrant an appeal of your divorce judgment, it is important to act quickly. Appeals must be filed with the Illinois appellate court within 30 days of the final judgment. The appealing party must explain the grounds for the appeal and what the alleged mistakes are. The appellate court’s function is to examine what happened during the trial court proceedings and determine whether legal errors occurred. Illinois appeals are heard by three judges. They will evaluate the evidence, hear arguments, and then make their decisions. The judges may uphold the circuit court’s original decision, amend the divorce judgment to correct the mistake, or vacate the judgment and send the case back to the circuit court.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerIf you are planning to divorce, you probably have questions about alimony or spousal maintenance. There are two avenues through which maintenance is typically awarded in Illinois: a marital agreement or a court order. If you and your spouse have already decided upon a spousal maintenance arrangement through a valid prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, you will likely be subject to the terms contained in that agreement. If no such agreement exists, you or your spouse may petition the court for a spousal maintenance order during your divorce. If you are considering divorce, it is important to know the basics of how and when spousal support is awarded in Illinois.

Is Spousal Maintenance Always Ordered During an Illinois Divorce?

Only a small number of divorce cases involve an order for spousal support. When determining whether or not a spouse is entitled to maintenance, the courts consider a variety of economic and circumstantial factors. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Each spouse’s income, assets, present earning capacity, and future earning capacity.

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DuPage County divorce attorney

When a person files a petition for divorce, called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Illinois, he or she must serve his or her spouse with the divorce petition. This sometimes involves one spouse simply handing the paperwork to the other spouse or it may be accomplished through a process server or other qualified third party. However, there are some circumstances where serving a spouse a divorce petition may be nearly impossible. When a spouse cannot be located, you will need to take special steps in order to be granted a divorce.

Attempting to Find a Missing Spouse

If you want to file for divorce but you do not know where your spouse is, you may be able to serve notice of the divorce through the newspaper. If the spouse still does not respond, you may be able to obtain a divorce without his or her participation. However, before either of those things happen, you will need to make a genuine effort to locate your spouse. You will also need to list all of the attempts you have made to find your spouse in an affidavit and file it with the court. It is recommended that you take at least the following steps to locate your spouse:

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DuPage County divorce attorney asset division

If you are considering divorce, you may understandably be feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused. The idea of dealing with the court system can be daunting – especially if you have never stepped foot inside of a courtroom before. Your confusion and anxiety may be exacerbated by well-intentioned friends and family who give you divorce advice that is simply untrue or does not apply to Illinois divorce cases. Fortunately, you do not have to face divorce alone. An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to give you the legal guidance you need to manage this difficult time in your life and move on to a brighter future.

Myth: I Will Need to Prove That My Spouse Did Something Wrong to Be Granted a Divorce

When a married individual files a petition for divorce, called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Illinois, they are essentially asking the judge to grant him or her a divorce. In the past, Illinois had both fault and no-fault grounds, or reasons, for divorce. Fault-based grounds were issues such as infidelity or mental cruelty. However, Illinois has since eliminated all fault-based grounds for divorce. Now, the only available ground for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.”

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DuPage County asset division attorney

Asset division during divorce involves much more than simply splitting a couple’s bank accounts. Complex assets, such as stocks and retirement funds, must also be accounted for. If you are considering getting a divorce in Illinois, you may have concerns about how your combined property will be divided between you and your spouse. You may also be unsure of which assets your spouse is entitled to and which assets are yours alone. Retirement account assets may be the result of years, if not decades, of hard work so they are often a significant portion of the marital estate. Understanding how these assets are divided during divorce is essential to ensure a fair settlement of the marital estate.

Classifying Retirement Assets as Marital or Separate

Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that property is distributed in an equitable, but not always even, manner during a divorce. Property division is based on many factors, including each spouse’s financial circumstances, their contributions to the acquisition of property, child custody arrangements, and much more. Only marital property is divided during an Illinois divorce. Marital property includes any assets that were acquired during the marriage. Nonmarital, or separate property, includes property acquired through inheritance or gift as well as property obtained by either spouse before the marriage. Retirement funds that a spouse accumulated before getting married are classified as nonmarital, and therefore, not subject to division. However, the portion of the retirement assets that were accumulated during the marriage is considered a marital asset and will need to be divided. It is essential to note that retirement plans will not be divided if a divorcing couple has signed a valid prenuptial agreement that excludes retirement assets.

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