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Divorce is never easy. A respected, honest and committed divorce lawyer can lighten your load and help you rebuild your life.

Begin with a simple, confidential and straightforward conversation.

Merel Family Law: Principled Divorce Lawyers Committed to Protecting You and Your Family

Let’s face it: ending a marriage or civil union is painful, regardless of the circumstances. And given the complexities of today’s legal system, it often feels daunting and overly stressful. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

For over 20 years, our team of respected and experienced divorce lawyers has provided our clients – people just like you – with the best-in-class legal representation they need. We’re proud to say that our advocacy has helped countless families all across Chicagoland move on with less pain and more hope.

Contact the best divorce lawyers in Chicago

Complete the form below to set up a consultation with our divorce law experts. Our team of experienced divorce attorneys is here for you. Need quick answers? Call us at (312) 408-7000.

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Why Trust Merel Family Law to Handle My Divorce?

Our clients are the type of people who demand and deserve world-class legal representation, and they won’t settle for anything less. So, we do our homework, stay on top of changes and emergent issues, prepare for every scenario, collaborate when it makes sense and fight like hell when it doesn’t. 

We work just as hard to keep it. Our team of seasoned attorneys has worked diligently to help earn the respect of our Chicago-area colleagues, clients, judges, court systems and community, and we intend to keep it that way. In other words, our reputation speaks for itself.

All divorces are unique, and while we prefer to approach our clients’ cases in a spirit of collaboration and negotiation, we are also not afraid to “take the gloves off” when needed. In other words, our clients’ answer to the question, “What does winning look like to you?” informs our strategies, tactics and tone. 

You’ll have peace of mind knowing we will never push you into a lengthy, costly and unnecessary court trial. However, we will use all legal remedies to protect your rights.

Our seasoned attorneys have specific expertise in cases involving women, LGBTQ+ couples, fathers, high-net-worth individuals, dissolution of long-term marriages, spouses who own businesses, appeals and more. We’ll ensure you’re represented by an experienced attorney who understands and respects your situation, the law and how best to work through your unique challenges. 

Unlike other law firms, we know how important it is to manage our client’s expectations and be available to answer their questions and concerns outside of regular business hours. You can contact us by phone, text, or email around the clock. 

Schedule an appointment at any one of our three in-person offices in Chicago, Hinsdale and Highland Park, or conduct some or all of your divorce proceedings online via Zoom.  In some instances, an in-court appearance may be required by the judge. If so, you’ll typically be given at least 30 days advance notice. 

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"They fought for my rights and kept me well informed"

“Getting divorced was a painful, difficult experience. I was lucky to have Merel’s firm to navigate through the process.

Jonathan Merel has a fantastic team, including Melissa Caballero, who led the charge in my divorce settlement. They fought for my rights and kept me well-informed as the case progressed. I highly recommend them if you are looking for an experienced law firm.”

Former Client

Our 4-Step Process

What to Expect from Our Divorce Attorneys and the Dissolution of Marriage Process

Step 1: Contact us by phone (312-408-7000) or email. Our intake coordinator will ask a few simple – and completely confidential – questions to connect you with the right lawyer. Depending on your schedule, your initial consultation could be scheduled as soon as the same day. 

Step 2: Consult with your attorney. During your initial conversation with your divorce attorney, you’ll be asked to share all aspects of your situation, including finances, property, businesses and children.

Step 3: Pay the retainer fee & legal process begins. All divorce cases are different – some are easy and straightforward, others are extremely complex and most are somewhere between. We will use this type of criteria to assess your retainer fee amount.

Step 4: Your divorce attorney will determine, communicate, and execute your case strategy. Initially, this includes filing official “dissolution of marriage” paperwork, serving the opposing party and entering the mediation or litigation phase.


Merel Family Law By The Numbers

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Additional Services Provided by Our Divorce Lawyers

Deciding to divorce your spouse is always difficult. It can be even more complicated the longer you are married. If you have been married for 20 years or more, permanent spousal maintenance comes into play. While alimony is always considered when one spouse has a significantly higher income than the other, it is paid out longer for couples in long-term marriages. You can trust our divorce attorneys will fight for a fair and favorable resolution.

Unique risk factors come with a high-net-worth divorce involving business ownership. If you own a business with your spouse, it will require professional evaluation. It is vital to consider the far-reaching tax consequences of splitting a business. Luckily, our divorce lawyers have considerable experience with handling these financial complexities.

Unfortunately, divorce is not guaranteed to end in your favor, but there is hope to make it right. You can appeal court orders due to legal mistakes, courtroom oversights, or miscalculations. First, you can work with our appellate attorneys to explain the situation and see if you qualify for a decision reversal or correction. We will build your appellate case to make sure it lives up to the new required preparations, procedures, and scrutiny bound to happen during the process.

Terminating a marriage or civil union is complex, anxiety-inducing, and undoubtedly distressing. The skilled and assertive divorce attorneys at Merel Family Law are dedicated to providing you with unwavering support throughout the process. As our esteemed client, our commitment to you is to offer superior representation and ensure that someone is always there to address your inquiries and worries.

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Get Support From Our Top-Rated Divorce Attorneys.

At Merel Family Law, we want to make the divorce process as smooth as possible. That starts with scheduling a consultation with our experienced intake coordinators. Then, our team of skilled divorce lawyers will provide you with the support you need to navigate the complexities of divorce.

The Divorce Process

Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce begins with the filing of a formal written complaint called the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you are the party to file for divorce, you are the Petitioner, and your spouse will be the Respondent. You will file this and other forms with the county clerk. Then, you are required to serve (or otherwise notify) your spouse of the divorce action by providing a copy of the filed petition. 

Unfortunately, there is not a clear and concise answer. Divorce cases can be over and done in a week or go on for several years. Generally speaking, the more conflict, the longer the case will take. It all depends on the situation at hand. Factors such as child custody issues, delays in discovery production, the need for business valuations, unreasonable lawyers/parties or other involved parties, or complex finances can make the process last longer.

Time is of the essence in this situation. As the Respondent in an Illinois divorce, you will have 30 days to file an Answer to the petition and file your Appearance. It is in your best interest to hire an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible. They will handle all court filings, communicate with the opposing counsel, collect your financial information, and advise you on the appropriate steps to take as your case proceeds.

While documents are not necessary to commence the case or file an Answer to the Petition, it is always smart to start gathering recent financial documentation such as the following:

  • Recent paystubs and W-2s
  • Recent utility bills
  • Recent mortgage statements
  • Statement for any ongoing loans
  • Secured debts
  • Medical and health insurance bills
  • Bank, savings, and investment statements
  • Retirement and 401(k) information
  • Life insurance policies
  • Three or more years of tax returns
  • Detailed list of common child-related expenses
  • Approximate monthly family budget
  • Get a P.O. Box
  • Change your passwords
  • Lock down your social media accounts
  • Consider opening a new financial account (but check with your attorney before doing this)

In every case, it takes a village. We have a full-service staff and a large team of attorneys to help with your situation. We use a variety of attorneys, both partners and associates alike, to resolve your case and keep costs down.

While it is technically possible to represent yourself in a divorce case in Chicago, it’s usually not the best course of action. Divorce is a complex legal process, and the stakes can be high. Having a seasoned divorce lawyer on your side can significantly influence the outcome of your case in your favor.

This is the million-dollar question, but honestly it depends on your case. Less contentious cases will incur fewer fees, and more complex cases that need more work or litigation from attorneys and staff will incur more. Retainers vary based on the type and scope of your case.

A retainer is an initial deposit required by attorneys and other professionals to commence representation. The retainer covers fees (billed based on hourly rates) and expenses. If the retainer is used up, the client will be responsible for any additional fees incurred beyond the retainer. If the case is finalized and a portion of the retainer is unused, that portion will be refunded back to the client.

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