DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Our experienced and compassionate DuPage County divorce attorney at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. offers a free consultation to help find the path to the best possible outcome in divorce and related family law issues.

Divorce ranks up there as one of life’s greatest stressors, and, unfortunately, almost 50 percent of marriages in the United States wind up in divorce court. At this turbulent time, when you are likely to be worried about your future, your finances, and the impact on your children, you need all the help you can get.

As trial lawyers, we understand the importance of thorough preparation and aggressive representation. Our DuPage divorce attorney is here for you and will walk you through the process and stand by your side.

Topics to jump to:

The Three Phases of the Divorce Process What To Do First Where to File for Divorce

Representing Men Representing Women Same-Sex Couple Divorce

Why You Need a DuPage Divorce Attorney

Trying to handle a divorce yourself could be a costly mistake. Even if you and your spouse agree and the divorce is friendly, this may change without warning as unexpected situations arise.  Children have issues; spouses become jealous or spiteful over new relationships; or one may start perceiving that the other is coming out ahead financially.  Having an attorney can protect your rights when a once-cooperative spouse turns sour.  Remember, once your divorce is final, mistakes are almost impossible to undo; and not only can they cost you a significant amount of money, but you and your children can suffer effects that last a lifetime. It is wise to have an attorney involved to make sure you get it right the first time.

Here are some reasons to hire a DuPage divorce attorney:

  • The divorce process is complex, and laws constantly change — such as the 2016 major revisions to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Your attorney can help you through the steps and processes and ensure that you understand the changes.
  • Issues come up with custody and visitation, and the future of your children is at stake.
  • Your attorney can help make sure marital property is divided fairly and equitably.
  • If you and your spouse can’t negotiate a settlement, you may have to go to trial, where an attorney’s assistance is essential.

What Makes a Good Divorce Attorney?

Here are some things you should look for in selecting a good attorney:

A good divorce attorney …

  • Is someone you can relate to, who supports your basic philosophy toward divorce, inspires trust and makes you feel comfortable.
  • Is knowledgeable, acts according to the professional ethics of the industry, treats you with the respect and attention you deserve, and focuses on your needs.
  • Communicates well and knows how to negotiate, has a good reputation in and is familiar with the judges and courts in your area.
  • Is supportive — recognizes the importance of your children and their needs, listens to what you want, understands your individual needs, provides good advice and proceeds according to the best interests of you and your family.
  • Is affordable and willing to discuss fee structures up front and come up with a plan that works for you.

When to Hire a Divorce Attorney

Knowing when to hire a divorce lawyer can make the difference between an amicable split and a drawn-out battle, and a difference in your final settlement. It makes sense to contact an attorney immediately, even if you are just thinking of divorce, and certainly if you have been surprised by divorce papers from your spouse.  Many attorneys offer a free consultation, and you should interview several before making your hiring decision to find the one that is the best fit for you.

An experienced divorce lawyer will give you emotional support right from the beginning, evaluate the specifics of your situation, and proceed in the best way to protect your assets and legal rights. Getting on the right path from the start will help prevent mistakes and ensure that the outcome of your divorce is as favorable as possible.

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What Should I Do Before Filing for Divorce?

Preplanning before filling for divorce allows you to protect what you can before the courts get involved. Things you should do include:

1) Plan for post-divorce life. Think about how you are going to live your life after the divorce is filed and have an idea what you will need to survive financially. Will you be able to support yourself and your children, keep your house and furniture, get your own health and other insurance, and get your own credit cards?

2) Evaluate your assets. Gather information and paperwork about your finances and possessions, including your home, investment property, financial accounts, and valuables.

3) Evaluate debts. Know what you and your spouse owe in terms of credit card and business debts, mortgages and loans, and any judgments against you. Order a free credit report from one or more of the major agencies (Equifax, Transunion, or Experion).

4) Get a financial consultant. Consider hiring a financial consultant or lawyer to do a financial discovery if you have a high asset divorce.

5) Keep your non-marital property separate. Marital property consists of all assets you or your spouse acquired during the marriage and before your divorce judgment, and this is the property that will be divided by the courts. It also includes non-marital property that has been transferred into co-ownership and commingled.

What Should I Do Before Telling My Spouse?

Telling your spouse you want a divorce is bound to be difficult, so make sure divorce is really what you want. If you are, prepare ahead of time and consider working with a counselor to help you sort through your feelings. Consult with an attorney to make sure all is in order, do thorough preplanning, and gather all your paperwork before you tell your partner anything. Then:

  • Pick a good time and place so you can speak without interruptions and have plenty of time to talk.
  • Be direct, but firm, and as respectful and kind as possible. Be aware that you may encounter resistance, anger, and emotional escalation.
  • Don’t negotiate about dividing property, child support, alimony and/or your parenting plan and timesharing arrangements without guidance from the right professional.

Handling Divorce Cases in DuPage County

Our seasoned attorneys know the intricacies of Illinois divorce law, and we handle divorce and related family law issues involving the following:


It is always better for divorcing partners to work out their differences rather than to submit to the final verdict of a family court judge. Mediation offers a chance for both spouses to resolve issues with the help of a neutral third party under conditions that are designed to minimize the possibility of conflict.

There are variations to the process of divorce mediation in Illinois, including the possibility of mediation through a phone conference.

To ensure that couples speak freely, nothing is submitted to the court until there is a final written agreement.

Couples may decide to undergo mediation before filing a joint petition for divorce or at any time before their court date.

Divorce and Financial Planning

How you stand financially after divorce is of great concern for both parties, so our attorneys focus on the financial planning aspects of divorce. We are familiar with the common tax, benefits and retirement issues that normally arise, but will refer you to a financial advisor if you need expert help on issues such as the short- and long-term impact of dividing property, analyzing pension and retirement plans. We can help you create a realistic budget and future spending plan.  We can also connect you with a bankruptcy lawyer if this is a consideration.

High-Asset Divorce

The more assets involved, the more you have to risk if your divorce is not handled properly. Our attorneys handle cases for individuals with high net worth and those involving family-owned businesses.  We strive to protect your pre-marital, family, and business assets, and to make sure the distribution of marital assets is equitable and fair.

High-Conflict Divorce

A normal divorce is bad enough, but when it degenerates into a high-conflict one, you need a skilled attorney on your side.  Spouses undergoing high-conflict divorce often clash, fight, and show hostility in almost every situation.  They frequently take each other to court and may take out restraining or no-contact orders and accuse their partner of domestic violence, physical abuse or sexual abuse.

Major areas for high conflict include:

  • Money – After a divorce, money has to support two households, so divorcing partners often feel there is never enough and that they are not getting their fair share.
  • Children –Children feel as if they are being pulled in two directions when parents are in a high-conflict divorce.
  • Possessions – Who gets the house and the car are big ones, but spouses may fight about every little item despite the consequences in time, stress, and cost.
  • New relationships – When a spouse begins dating, jealousy raises its ugly head.
  • Revenge –High-conflict divorcing spouses often seek revenge and go to great lengths to get even, including frequent court actions and involvement of third-party investigators.

Military Divorce

An Illinois military divorce involves different laws than a civilian one, and we have the expertise to handle divorce for both service members and their spouses.  Under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, 50 UCS section 521, there are military rules and regulations for serving papers on a soldier, and laws for maintenance, child and spousal support, and division of a military pension.  Active duty spouses have legal protection to allow them to “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation,” through 60 days post active duty, so there are times it is necessary to postpone the filing of your divorce papers.

Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements can help prevent a lot of aggravation down the line, as they create a basis for agreement should divorce occur. Prenuptial agreements are best suited for people who have premarital funds and ventures they do not wish to blend with marital assets. Agreements also make sure money stays in the family in the event that the new prospective spouse passes away during marriage or in case of divorce.

However, if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement may be an option. It is similar to a prenuptial agreement except that it is entered into and signed after marriage. Our attorneys will create a unique and personalized prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that is tailored to meet your needs.

Property Division

Illinois is an equitable distribution state — marital property is divided equitably, not necessarily equally. All property acquired after the marriage and before a judgment of dissolution of marriage is presumed to be marital property, and this is divided without regard to marital misconduct.

To determine what is equitable, both spouses are required to provide a complete disclosure of their financial information. You will have to provide pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements supporting the information listed in the affidavits.

Business Valuations During Divorce

If you have a business, our attorneys will help you protect it in divorce, as well as your retirement accounts and any pre-owned property.  In some circumstances, such as if a spouse was employed by or helped run the company, the spouse may be entitled to as much as 50 percent of the business in a divorce, so we work to ensure that you don’t do anything to put your business at risk.

In addition, partnership, shareholder and/or operating agreements should have provisions to protect the interests of the other owners if one gets divorced.

DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Spousal Support/Spousal Maintenance

As of January 1, 2015, Illinois spousal support laws have changed. The new law sets out formulas that would apply in most cases to determine the proper amount of support and the number of years the maintenance award shall continue. (See 750 ILCS5/504.)  Our experienced lawyers are there to help establish support payments and explain the types of support that you may be entitled to or must pay.

Keys to Hiring a DuPage Divorce Attorney

When hiring a divorce attorney, it makes sense to start by asking for recommendations from friends and family members who have gone through the process.  Another good source is doing research online and examining the websites of attorneys who handle your type of divorce situation.  It may be helpful to consult a local finding service that provides quality-assured lawyer directories and can connect you to an experienced lawyer in your area.

Once you have come up with several choices, take advantage of the free consultations offered and interview these attorneys to see if you feel comfortable with them. Have questions ready to ask so you can determine whether the attorney has the experience, objectivity, and knowledge to represent you during the divorce proceedings, shares your divorce philosophies, is affordable, and is a good fit for you.

Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney

When you meet with your attorney, bring up any concerns and questions you may have about issues such as:

  • your eligibility for divorce
  • where and how to file and what forms are necessary
  • what fees and costs are involved
  • the attorney’s experience with custody and visitation cases, child support and setting up a parenting plan if you have children
  • the attorney’s experience with marital support, division of property, and high asset cases
  • the attorney’s style and divorce philosophy and whether mediation or collaboration is available
  • whether the attorney will handle most of your divorce or there will be an assistant who will be dealing with your case
  • what is involved in the divorce process and how long it is likely to last
  • what percentage of the practice is divorce, and how many cases have been tried.

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

The time a divorce takes depends on the issues involved.  If the divorce is simple and uncontested, it can take as little as two months. If it is contested and the spouses are fighting over issues such as property division, child support and custody, and spousal maintenance, divorces can, in some cases, take several years.

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The Divorce Process

To file for divorce in Illinois, the parties need to reside in the state for at least 90 days prior to the date of filing. The divorce process begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The filing party is the “Petitioner” and the responding party is referred to as the “Respondent.”

The divorce process can be divided into three phases:

  1. The Temporary Relief Phase. The Respondent is served with a Summons and Petition for Dissolution, typically by the sheriff or a professional service, which provides temporary relief while the Petition or Dissolution remains pending. The spouse is given 30 days to respond or a judge will typically set a date for both spouses to appear in court.

Temporary Relief may include:

  • Temporary order of Child support
  • Temporary order of Maintenance (if the party is not self-supporting)
  • Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
  • Temporary Attorney Fees.
  1. The Discovery Phase. The parties exchange documents for a full disclosure of all assets. Each party must disclose a Financial Affidavit, which includes income, expenses, assets, debts, and other financial-related items. Commonly used methods for discovering information are Marital Interrogatories (a list of written questions requiring the responding party to make written responses) and a Request to Produce Documents (requiring copies of the documents requested).
  2. The Resolution Phase. The case settles and a Judgment for Dissolution and Marital Settlement Agreement is entered. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning the martial property is divided in an equitable manner, but not necessarily equally. If the parties cannot reach a settlement on the issues, the case goes to trial, where the court will determine issues such as the property award and child and spousal support.

Where to File for Divorce

In Illinois, you may file for divorce in the Circuit Court in the county where either spouse lives.

Factors to Consider During a Divorce

There is much to consider when undergoing a divorce, as the rest of your life is at stake.  Illinois is an equitable distribution state. This means marital property and debts need not be divided 50/50, but according to what the courts decide is “equitable.”  The court’s property division decision is guided by twelve factors set out in the law, and it does not consider “marital misconduct” in dividing the property and debts.

 The factors include:  

  • Each party’s contribution to the marriage
  • Dissipation of assets by each party
  • Value of property assigned to each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • The relevant economic circumstances and timing
  • Prior marriages
  • Pre- and post-nuptial agreements
  • Situational status
  • Custody of children — how to allocate parental responsibilities and time
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Future income
  • Taxes consequences of the property distribution.

DuPage County Divorce Attorney

How to Consider Children in the Divorce

Divorce is a major life-changer for children, who are bound to be affected emotionally and have fears and insecurities about their future. Will they get to see both their parents; will they have to leave their home, school and friends; will there be enough money for them to meet their needs?

In any divorce settlement, Illinois courts make the needs of the children a priority.  Parents must come up with a parenting plan that that outlines how both parents will continue to care for and provide for their children after separating.

In making your plan, you should include all elements that are essential to cover your children’s physical, emotional and social needs, plus the needs and considerations of both parents.  Basic plan essentials should include:

  • Parenting time schedule.  Lay out the time your children will spend with each parent. Include their daily living schedules, holidays, and vacation time.
  • Parental Responsibility.  State which parent will have most of the decision-making responsibilities in the major life areas, including education, medical and health situations, extra-curricular activities, and religion.
  • Parenting guidelines.  Come up with rules that both parents agree to follow as they raise their children.
  • Traveling.  Designate how much vacation time each parent has and include provisions about traveling and relocating if parents move a long distance apart.
  • Financial information.  Include financial information about child support, claiming children as a dependent for taxes, and handling reimbursement for extra expenses.
  • Revising the plan.  Lay out how both parents will revise the plan if it becomes necessary or desirable, and a way to resolve disagreements about revisions to the plan.

Representing Men

Men have specific issues in divorce and should hire a DuPage County divorce attorney who has experience with and understands these issues, including:

  • Custody and visitation.  Traditionally, divorce courts were biased toward the mother in custody proceedings, and the common arrangement was for the mother to have residential custody and the father to have visitation, often every other weekend and one night during the week.  In recent years, courts have become more gender-neutral and now focus on the best interests of the child. As a result, more men can get shared custody arrangements, known as “parental time and responsibilities.”
  • Spousal support. Since men are often the higher wage-earners, they are more often affected by the new Republican tax law, which eliminates the tax break for alimony payments that are finalized or modified after Dec. 31, 2018.  The old system allowed people paying alimony to deduct the payments from their income before calculating taxes. The new system requires payment of taxes on all income, including alimony. Without the tax deduction, high earners are pressured to pay more to support their former spouses.

Representing Women

While our society has made strides toward gender equality, wives still do the bulk of the housework and childcare, and many hold a job as well. Since women often earn less and many have stayed home to raise children or have supported their husband’s career, they are often worse off financially when on their own.

While the courts are striving to be more gender neutral, your attorney should be familiar with the laws and understand the unique issues affecting women and their children in the areas of property division, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance. For example, under the tax law that goes into effect January 1, 2019, the spouse receiving alimony will receive it tax free, the same as money paid for child support.  However, since the alimony recipient earns less than the paying spouse, the paying spouse hit by increased taxes will try to negotiate lower payments, so alimony recipients may wind up losing 10% to 15% of what they would get under the old law.  Since usually women earn less than their spouses, the new law will hurt them – and their children — the most.

Representing Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex marriages or civil unions terminate the same way as a traditional marriage, with the divorce governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Divorcing same-sex couples need to deal with the usual issues of property division, spousal maintenance, child custody and child support.

In dividing property, the courts consider whether property or assets were acquired before marriage or whether the assets are marital property, was obtained during the marriage. As in a traditional marriage, spousal support will depend on factors such as the length of the marriage, the income and property owned by parties, and whether one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent.

Alternate Approaches

There are several alternatives to traditional litigation that are available to those considering divorce.  These include:

  • Mediation.  If your divorce is not a hostile one and you do not have complicated situations with assets, finances, and children, hiring a mediator to help you negotiate the terms of your divorce is a quick and inexpensive way to proceed. For the simplest cases, dealing with the mediator may be adequate, but for anything more complex, both parties should have their own attorneys to represent their interests and negotiate a settlement.
  • Collaborative divorce.  In a collaborative divorce, both parties agree to resolve all issues in a respectful, open and honest manner, and to focus on constructive problem-solving outside of the court system. Both spouses have their own attorneys, who are trained in the collaborative process.  The attorneys make sure their clients are aware of their legal rights and obligations relating to property, alimony, and children, and they seek a satisfactory resolution for everyone concerned.

Spouses and their attorneys sign a contract called a Participation Agreement, stating their commitment to resolving issues according to collaborative principals and guidelines. Settlement is reached through a series of meetings where the couple is guided through the process by their attorneys in a structured, non-adversarial way. Once everyone agrees, documents are prepared and presented to the judge for approval and entry of judgment. Collaborative attorneys may not continue to represent their clients if the process breaks down and goes to litigation.

  • Annulment and void marriages. Annulment means the marriage was never regarded as legally valid in the first place.  Under Illinois law, an annulment is a “declaration of invalidity of marriage,” an order that revokes recognition by the state.  Once an annulment is granted, it is as if the marriage never really existed. Annulments are hard to get, as they have strict requirements and time limits and must have specific grounds such as mental disability, being forced into marriage, bigamy or incest, or hiding one’s inability to have sexual intercourse.

Contact Us For Help With Divorce Issues

DuPage County Divorce LawyerIllinois divorce law is complicated and changing, and the facts and circumstances of each case are different, so it makes sense to seek legal counsel to represent your interests. The skilled DuPage divorce lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., can advise and guide you through every step in the process.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your individual divorce issues and answer your questions.

For your initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County divorce lawyer, contact us online or call 630-305-0222 or 312-388-7882. We handle cases throughout Illinois and can make consultation appointments at our office.

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Recent Family Law Results

During trial four experts all testified against our client the Judge found it was in the best interest of the child that our client be awarded custody. We have successfully represented clients in numerous child custody cases.

Child Custody

We recently analyzed a case whereby the opposing side was seeking a substantial award of maintenance against our client. After a thorough review of the facts and circumstances and several hearings, our client’s obligation to pay maintenance was limited to two years at half of what his former spouse was seeking.

Alimony (Maintenance/Support)

After our client voluntarily changed employment we were able to obtain a substantial reduction in child support payments. We have also stopped such reductions when representing clients receiving child support.

Child Support

3321 Hobson Road, Suite B
Woodridge, IL 60517
Phone: 630-305-0222

105 West Madison Street, Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 312-388-7882

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