Filing Divorce in Illinois: Is It Worth Filing First

The decision to get divorced is never an easy one. For most couples, in fact, the final decision comes after months and months of consideration, and possibly years of unhappiness. Even after the decision is made, however, the spouses may spend another few months living separately and going about their lives but knowing full well that one of them will need to get the process started eventually.

If this describes your situation, you probably recognize the emotion of feeling stuck in limbo. Make no mistake, filing a divorce petition is a serious thing. While the logistics of filing the petition are relatively easy, the emotional and psychological elements of taking such a step may be quite difficult for you.

There is also the question of whether you should be the one to file for divorce. After all, you both agreed to the divorce, and your spouse has just as much of a right to file the petition. And, does it even really matter who files the petition? The answer to this last question is multi-faceted, but it may hold the key to your decision about whether you should go ahead and get the divorce process moving.

Divorce as a Civil Proceeding

There are many specialized laws that apply to the divorce process in Illinois. Over time, these laws have caused divorce to be seen as a unique type of legal proceeding. This is certainly true, to an extent, but at its most basic, a divorce is still technically a civil lawsuit. In fact, it is a lawsuit in which one party asks the court to dissolve a contract—specifically, the marriage contract—that he or she has entered into with another person.

Because it is a civil lawsuit, every divorce, therefore, has a plaintiff and a defendant. The plaintiff is the person who brings the lawsuit, and the defendant is the party against whom the lawsuit if filed. As stated above, divorce is a special kind of civil proceeding, and in Illinois, the process is largely governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDA), which is found in Chapter 750, Act 5 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes. In regard to a divorce proceeding, the IMDMA makes reference to a “plaintiff” and “defendant” exactly one time each. Instead, the preferred terms are “petitioner” and “respondent.”

The Legal Questions

As you might expect, the “petitioner” is the plaintiff—the party who gets the process started by filing the petition for divorce. The “respondent” is technically the defendant, and he or she has the opportunity to respond to any filings made by the petitioner. Which brings us back to the question: does it matter if you are the petitioner or defendant in your divorce? And again, the answer is complicated.

From a legal standpoint, both the petitioner and the respondent have the same rights, responsibilities, and opportunities during a divorce once the petition is filed. Both parties can present arguments and evidence, file motions, and ask the court for various considerations. Likewise, both parties can challenge arguments and evidence presented by the other side. Once the proceedings have started, there is no particular advantage or disadvantage to being either the petitioner or the defendant.

Deciding on Venue

As things get started, however, there may be at least one advantage to filing first. This advantage could potentially come from choosing where your divorce case will be held. A divorce is considered a state-level civil matter, which means that the proceedings are held in a county circuit court. It is up to the petitioner to decide in which county he or she will file the petition.

The IMDMA specifies that a divorce proceeding is to be held in the circuit court of “the county where the plaintiff or defendant resides.” Yes, this is the one reference to the plaintiff and defendant in the entire IMDMA. The law goes on to say that the petitioner can file the petition for divorce in any county in the state if the petition is accompanied by a request for the court to waive the normal venue requirements. If the non-filing spouse objects to the choice of venue, he or she must file the objection with the initial response to the divorce petition. Objections that are raised later will not be heard, and the respondent will not be entitled to appeal the divorce judgment on the basis of where the case was handled.

With all of this in mind, being the spouse who files could allow you to determine the county where the case will be heard. This could be helpful depending on a number of factors, including your attorney’s familiarity with the judges and staff in a particular county, as well as the court’s reputation for divorce-related procedures and rulings.

Other Possible Advantages

While the legal benefits of filing for divorce before your spouse files are rather limited, there are some very good reasons that you might consider “taking the bull by the horns” and filing the petition first. For example, you might be a person who prefers to be proactive instead of reactive. When you file the petition for divorce, you take initial control. You get to clearly state that you wish to dissolve the marriage, and you can clearly lay out what you want to get out of the divorce, including any requests for spousal support, a share of the marital estate, and your preferred parenting arrangements. If you wait for your spouse to file, you will still be able to ask for what you want, but you will need to counter his or her requests first.

There is also the issue of preparation. If you have all of your affairs in order—including your finances—and you are pretty sure that your spouse does not, filing the petition for divorce could be beneficial for you. This is to not suggest you should take unfair advantage of your spouse, but there is nothing stopping you from pushing the proceedings forward. If your spouse has a valid reason for not being ready, he or she can ask the court for the time that he or she needs. Your filing, however, could put your spouse on the defensive, which might give you some leverage during the proceedings. It is important to keep in mind that this strategy could backfire, turning a relatively amicable divorce into one that is more bitter and contentious that either of you intended.

Get the Help You Need

If you are thinking about filing your petition for divorce, an experienced DuPage County family law attorney can help you make sure that you are fully prepared for the road that lies ahead. Your divorce is likely to involve a number of complex issues, and it is important that you know what to expect. With our guidance, you will be ready for any challenges that may arise as you seek the happier, healthier future that you deserve.

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Can A Complaint Against an Officer Void Your Traffic Ticket in Louisiana?

Traffic tickets are very common. Anyone can make a mistake while driving and can end up with a traffic ticket. The officer will mention what violations you were cited for, when your court date is, and sometimes the amount of fine you need to pay for the violations.

The good thing is that our legal system allows us to fight this ticket and plead your case in court. If you feel you have the slightest chance to prove yourself not-guilty, you can plead so in court and proceed to verify your claim with help of Louisiana Speeding Ticket Lawyer.

How You Can Handle The Traffic Violation Tickets

If you got a minor violation, then you have several options to handle the ticket. If you were given a ticket for a misdemeanor, you will be expected to appear in court. If you don’t appear in court on the day of the hearing, the court can charge you with a “Failure to appear” violation, take away your driving license, and levy additional fines.

You always have the option of contesting a traffic violation. However, if you choose not to challenge it, then you are faced with the following options:

  • Paying the fine
  • Choose traffic school
  • Correct the violation

If you decide you want to contest the violation, then you can choose one of the following options:

  • Request a court trial
  • Request a trial by written declaration

Whatever you choose to do, besides the above options, there is no other way to deal with a traffic violation. There are, however, multiple situations in which your traffic violation ticket may get dismissed:

The Officer Does Not Appear In Court

The officer has to prove in court that you did break the rule and did something wrong to be given the ticket. If the officer does not come to court, he/she cannot prove your fault. As a result, the violation will be dismissed

A Mistake On The Ticket

Any incorrect or missing information on the ticket can lead to its dismissal. Check your ticket thoroughly and if the officer has made any mistake on it, bring it to the court’s notice. If the error is valid, then the court will dismiss your ticket.

Faulty Equipment

Another way to get your traffic violation ticket dismissed is by proving to the court that the officer’s equipment, like a RADAR gun or the camera on the red light, to give you the citation was faulty and was not working correctly. If you can prove this claim, the court will not consider your ticket and let you go.

While all of the above points may work in court and help you avoid a traffic violation ticket, you should also keep in mind what will not work in a court of law. We often try to make defenses in desperation, thinking it may help us with our traffic ticket. But this is not true for everything. Here is a list of defenses that will not work to relieve you of your traffic violation ticket.

  • Not knowing the law well: Even if you prove that you did not understand the law well and misunderstood it, the court will not dismiss your ticket.
  • Telling the court that you were going with the flow of the traffic: This defense will definitely not work. The fact that other drivers were not driving correctly does not give you the opportunity to do the same. As such, this defense will not work in your favor.
  • The officer singled you out of the many potential violators: If you bring this defense in court, you are indirectly agreeing to the mistake. The fact that the officer picked you and no one else tells the court that you did commit the crime, but were hoping the officer catches someone else.
  • No property was damaged, and no one was injured: In most minor traffic violations, the officer does not have to prove that there was property damage involved or that anyone was injured. Hence, this defense won’t work in the court of law.
  • Giving the court a tragic story: Judges in the traffic court are used to hearing stories and excuses from the accused day in and day out. Giving them a tragic story won’t convince them that you are guilt-free
  • Stating that the officer is lying: Any officer is under oath to tell the truth in court. So, between you and the officer, there is a higher chance that the judge will believe the officer and your defense that the officer is lying won’t hold good.

While all of the above excuses and defenses are commonly seen in court, one of the most common ones that people often ask attorneys about is whether the traffic violation will become void if there is a complaint against the reporting officer.

The simple answer to the question is no. Any complaint against the officer cannot void your traffic ticket. For example, if the complaint was filed because the officer kept your license, the court could ask you why you did not remind the officer to return your license then. As such, this reason cannot void your traffic ticket. Your best option to handle the situation would be to plead not guilty and go to trial if you think you have concrete proof that proves your innocence.

It is natural to get worried and start scrambling in desperation if you have gotten a traffic violation ticket. This is especially true if your traffic violation is a serious one. You will try and think of many defenses that you believe will help you out of the case. What you may not realize is some of these defenses may even put you in more significant trouble. In such situations, it is best to speak to a Louisiana Speeding Ticket Lawyer and get clarity on what might work and what will not. The lawyer can also listen to your case and tell you if you have a chance at getting the ticket dismissed, and advise you of your legal rights.

Find top rated attorneys and law firms profiles with Find Attorneys Directory, the best and free online attorney directory. Guest bloggers can also publish their articles here as other bloggers are doing.