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Illinois Divorce Attorneys & Law Firms near Chicago Metro
Getting a divorce can have serious, long-term effects, both emotionally and legally. There are also strict legal requirements that cover everything from choosing a method of legal separation to selecting where and how to file, to deciding how the property should be divided. The divorce process can be confusing, especially without legal assistance. FindLaw's directory can connect you with trusted divorce lawyers in Illinois to guide you through the divorce process and minimize the stress you experience during this difficult time.
What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Separation?
There are several distinctions between divorce and separation.
First, legal separation may be a court-mandated step of the divorce process, with some states requiring that potential divorcees spend some time living apart in a form of legal separation before proceeding to formal divorce.
Outside of this requirement, legal separation is reversible, while divorce is not. Once you have been declared divorced from a former spouse, there is no going back. Legally separated spouses retain the right to inherit property as well, and may not remarry (as they are still considered married, despite separation).
What Are Alternatives to Divorce?
Depending on your circumstances, you may have other options for ending your marriage besides a divorce. Many states offer legal separations, which can allow spouses to make some of the same decisions as a divorce regarding their shared property, child custody, and child support. This option doesn't legally end the marriage and is generally used when couples want to retain their marriage status for religious or health care reasons.
An annulment, on the other hand, has the same legal effect as a divorce but does so by declaring your marriage was never valid in the first place. Reasons for an annulment could be that one spouse was already married, was tricked into the marriage, or was too young at the time to legally marry.
What Is the Difference Between an Annulment and Divorce?
While divorce may be permanent, it does not dispute the fact that a marriage was legally enacted and in existence in the first place.
An annulment, however, is very similar to a divorce as it may involve a dividing of assets, custody and visitation negotiations, and so on — but an annulment means that the marriage was established on false pretenses. If a man discovers, for example, that his wife has been lying about an extensive criminal past (or present), or that she was never formally divorced from a former spouse, he may file for an annulment rather than a divorce.
If an annulment is successful, it is — from a legal perspective — as if the marriage did not ever truly exist. Annulments can also be sought for religious reasons, particularly given the gravity of divorce in the understanding of certain faiths.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost in Illinois?
In Illinois, a general estimate of the per-hour cost for a lawyer can range from about $130 to $400 per hour, depending on location, expertise and the complexity of the case in question.
In some cases, attorneys may opt to offer clients a flat-rate fee instead of a per-hour fee. This typically arises in criminal defense law as well as certain divorce court proceedings. A fee for a misdemeanor defense is usually far less than the flat fee for a felony defense. Representation on issues related to juvenile offenses and traffic offenses may cost you less than the representation on situations involving corporate law or bankruptcies.
Finally, certain lawyers, such as personal injury lawyers, typically offer clients representation based on contingency. If you win a settlement from such a case, such as slipping and falling at a business establishment and incurring a serious injury, your personal injury lawyer will retain a percentage of your total settlement, rather than charging you any per-hour or flat-rate fees.
If you cannot afford representation in a legal matter, legal aid may be an option to consider.
What Types of Cases Can an Illinois Lawyer Help With?
While an Illinois lawyer can take on cases of any sort, the most common criminal cases in Illinois involve simple assault or aggravated assault, sexual assault, violations of the Controlled Substances Act, burglary (business and residential), driving while under the influence (DUI) and severe violent crime such as homicide and armed robbery.
Illinois lawyers are also typically called upon to represent parties in marital disputes leading to divorce or separation, the custody battles common to such cases, and other civil proceedings.