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JPEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 5106
Experience:  Experience as general attorney, in house counsel, SSDI, Family Law attorney, and law professor
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I am Pro Se in a divorce case in Illinois. I had a status hearing

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I am Pro Se in a divorce case in Illinois. I had a status hearing yesterday, and the judge scheduled a bench trial for the end of August. I just wanted to know what to expect at the trial. Mediation hasn't even been brought up at this point.

If you do not mediate an agreement before the trial date, you will be expected to present your case to the judge.

Whoever filed the petition will go first. The petitioner will make an argument about what they want with regard to the split of assets and child custody. The way this is done is through testimony of the petitioner and anyone else that can support their position. Then the respondent will be allowed to cross examine the petitioner and the witnesses.

Then the respondent will do the same thing. If there are no lawyers, sometimes the judge will just take control and ask a few questions about what is at issue, and then allow testimony regarding those issues.

You don't need permission to mediate, but you can probably get a court order for mediation and continue the trial, if that is the route you want to go.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
My wife is the Petitioner and has counsel. I have been Pro se so far.
There are no minor children, a house that is 2 months away from being paid off, and the only liabilty is a 2nd mortgage for 25k for my daughter's college tuition. We both have 401k's, IRA's.
My wife makes 90k a year, I made 31k last year and just lost an account last week to bring me down to 14k if I stay with the company.
She has exclusive possession of the marital residence.
The judge, so far, has been seemingly in my corner (he produced a court order for my wife to let me have the boat and fishing equipment, a guitar, etc) and told her "you can't have everything".
I have faith that the judge/court will determine a fair and equitable outcome. Should I still hire an attorney at this point? I also live 6 hours away now, so it's difficult to do anything other than go to the hearings, etc.

You probably do not need an attorney to help you determine what you are entitled to, but it may help you determine how to make it work. You are not going to be ordered to pay child support or alimony (given your respective incomes). The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that you should receive "an equitable distribution" of all marital assets. That usually equates to around 50% of everything accumulated during the marriage.

So if your wife is going to stay in the house, then you should get 50% of whatever equity is left after subtracting the 2nd mortgage. Same thing goes with retirement accounts. If she has a lot more than you in her 401k, you could be entitled to some of her 401k and IRA. It is not an exact science as there are ongoing debts and obligations as well to offset some of the assets, but you should end up somewhere in the 50% of everything range.

That said, an attorney may be able to help you if there are issues as to who owned what, and who paid for what. If you were married a long time, pretty much everything will go into the pot to be divided. But a lawyer may help you determine what was in the 401k or IRA's prior to marriage, how much the house is worth, etc. Having a lawyer will help you with the mechanics of your decree. For example, if you are awarded some amount of the home value... you need to think about how that will be executed. Will it be sold or will she refinance it and cash you out? Or maybe she will offset her claim to your 401k in exchange for the house...

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