Illinois Divorce Filing: Does It Matter Who Files First? Bruckner Hernandez Legal Solutions

Illinois Divorce Filing: Does It Matter Who Files First?

When a couple decides to get a divorce, the Illinois divorce filing process sometimes turns into a race. In these cases, both the husband and wife attempt to file the divorce petition before the other one.

Naturally, one of the first questions people ask when they call our office is, “Is it to my benefit to file first?” Generally, it really doesn’t matter who files. Notably, the divorce petitioner matters even less during an out-of-court process, such as Collaborative Divorce.

Illinois Divorce Filing in the Collaborative Divorce Process

In a Collaborative Divorce, both parties work together with the help of trained professionals to resolve their issues. While doing so, they strive to reach a settlement agreement. Thus, the spouses benefit from a careful analysis prior to filing.

Throughout the Collaborative Divorce process, both parties mutually select a date for their Illinois divorce filing. This helps them avoid filing the petition prematurely. More so, agreeing on a date sidesteps the spiral of filing one continuance after another. Therefore, this small, yet crucial step saves both time and money.

Additionally, the couple works through the issues outside of court. By doing so, neither party files the petition until both are ready. In certain circumstances, filing at a particular time is important. However, these instances depend on unique legal challenges surrounding spousal or parenting rights and responsibilities. For these cases, the best course of action is to consult with a family law attorney in advance.

When the Illinois Divorce Filing Date Plays a Significant Role

Every once in a while, the Illinois divorce filing date plays a significant role in the process. Typically, this pertains to the location of the spouses, maintenance awards, and property valuations.

Filing Based on Spouse Location

For spouses who live in the same county, it will generally make no difference to the outcome who files. The one who files first, known as the Petitioner, obtains the advantage of setting dates and presenting their case first at court hearings. However, the non-filing spouse, known as the Respondent, can request to change those dates.

If the Petitioner meets residency requirements, the divorce litigation generally takes place in the county and state of filing. This can be significant for a spouse who wants Illinois equitable division of property to apply instead of, for example, the community property law of another state.

Filing Based on Spousal Maintenance Awards

The petition filing date may make a difference in the amount of time one spouse receives support from the other.

Illinois law states that the length of time for which one spouse may be awarded maintenance depends on the length of the marriage, calculated from the date of the marriage to “the time the action was commenced.”

Filing Based on Property Valuation

Illinois law allows the court to determine a date for valuing the marital property for purposes of dividing it.

The statue allows that date to be any date agreed upon by the parties, or the trial date, or any other date ordered by the court, within its discretion.

Filing for Your Illinois Divorce with Bruckner Hernandez Legal Solutions

While the person who files the Illinois divorce typically doesn’t gain additional leverage, it is always best to consult with an attorney prior to doing so. Additionally, the Collaborative Divorce process opens up an opportunity to save on both time and money in the long run.

For legal guidance with your Illinois divorce filing, contact the family law firm at Bruckner Hernandez Legal Solutions, LLC.

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