Divorce is hard enough. You deserve a respected and honest LGBTQ+ divorce lawyer who deeply understands your needs.
Merel Family Law: Protect Your Interests with a Specialized LGBTQ+ Divorce Lawyer
We get it: deciding to end your marriage or civil union is an emotionally taxing process. With the complexities of the legal system, it can feel even more overwhelming. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone.
For over two decades, our attorneys have helped countless families navigate the divorce process, in and out of the courtroom. We take pride in balancing compassionate support with perceptive legal expertise to achieve the best possible outcome.
We’d like to do the same for you.
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 LGBTQ+ divorce lawyers have specific expertise in cases involving women, LGBTQIA+ 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 queer and same-sex divorce 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 four in-person offices in Chicago, Hinsdale, Skokie 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.
"Kind and non-judgemental of our situation"
Our 4-Step Process
What to Expect from Our LGBTQ+ Divorce Lawyers 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 LGBTQ+ divorce lawyer, you’ll be asked to share all aspects of your situation, including mental health, domestic violence, finances, current or past substance abuse/use and applicable family history.
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 then entering the mediation or litigation phase.
Merel Family Law By The Numbers
Additional Services In Divorce & LGBTQ+ Law
LGBTQ+ family law is a specialized field of law that focuses on the challenges and unique needs that may arise for the LGBTQ+ community. Our passionate team of LGBTQ+ family lawyers has decades of experience working directly with queer and same-sex families in second-parent adoption, legal assistance for orders of protection, navigating the intricacies of LGBTQ+ divorces, and resolving custody disputes. No matter the scenario, our goal is to safeguard your rights while offering you compassion and counsel every step of the way.
Our team of second-parent adoption attorneys fight to protect your LGBTQ+ adoption rights when taking legal guardianship of a child. They also ensure that the first parent maintains their rights at the same time, especially in cases involving assisted reproductive technology to create their family. Unmarried same-sex and queer couples will also need specific legal counsel when they look to adopt. Our expert LGBTQ+ adoption attorneys will guide you through the process and help explain your rights as an adoptive parent, which usually mirrors the rights of biological parents in custody and visitation matters.
Domestic violence is an unfortunate reality for many people, whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships. However, there are additional threats for the LGBTQ+ community, such as challenges tied to their sexual orientation, dual discrimination, insufficient support services, and misconceptions rooted in stereotypes. Our team of dedicated LGBTQ+ family lawyers is devoted to keeping their clients safe and informed through legal advice and encouragement. You deserve peace and justice in your life.
High-asset divorce automatically becomes more complex. That’s why you need seasoned legal professionals on your side who regularly work with cases containing large assets, like real estate, investments and business interests. Our divorce attorneys will fight for your best interests to protect your property ownership, ensure equitable distribution and determine appropriate spousal maintenance. Don’t risk losing your resources; let our expert divorce lawyers handle everything on your behalf.
Despite the recognition of same-sex marriage in Illinois since 2013, the laws surrounding same-sex child custody are still complex. It is essential to collaborate with a seasoned custody attorney to find a favorable outcome that is best for your child. Our primary concern is maintaining the best interests of the children involved in these highly emotional legal proceedings. We will work diligently to protect your LGBTQ+ adoption and parental rights until a fair resolution is achieved.
Get Support From Our Top-Rated LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ divorce lawyers will provide you with the support you need to navigate the complexities of divorce.
LGBTQ+ Divorce Lawyers & the Divorce Process
Frequently Asked Questions
In Illinois, queer and same-sex couples file for divorce like any other couple. Since Illinois is a no-fault state, the spouse who files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage only needs to cite irreconcilable differences as a reason for divorce. You must also meet the 90-day residency requirement and file for divorce in the county where you live.
While the process is generally similar to divorcing heterosexual couples, some unique challenges may arise. Issues can occur around child custody if one partner is not the biological parent and hasn’t legally adopted the child. The court may hesitate to award visitation or custody rights in such cases. Property division can also be a contentious issue, especially for couples who have commingled assets and property in a marriage-like arrangement before same-sex marriage was legalized in Illinois in 2013.
Unfortunately, there is not a clear and concise answer. Divorce can be over and done in a week or go on for many years. It all depends on the situation at hand. Factors such as child custody issues, business valuation, unreasonable lawyers 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 queer and same-sex divorce attorney. 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.
- 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
- Open a private financial account
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 not always the best course of action. Divorce is a complex legal process, and the stakes can be high. Having a seasoned queer and same-sex divorce attorney on your side can significantly influence the outcome of your case in your favor.
This is a million-dollar question, but 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.