Getting the right Illinois family law help has never been easier than now. Our team of Illinois family law attorneys has done it all and is experienced in every aspect of Illinois divorce, child custody, father’s rights, or child support cases. Going through a family law issue in Illinois is no easy task; it is an emotionally heart wrenching ordeal for most, and even those that have moved past the emotional aspects often find themselves stuck in one place because they do not know how to get what they deserve from the Illinois court system. Part of the reason is because Illinois family law statutes were re-written entirely in 2016 with multiple amendments every year since that time. Combine these numerous re-writes with the thousands of Appellate Court and Illinois Supreme Court cases that interpret the law (and the laws re-writes), and not being a trained expert makes understanding the rules a dauting task. With one of our Illinois family law professionals on your side, you can rest assured that you have a proven winner advocating for your interests. Here’s the best part – connecting with one of our professionals is always free!
Get the Illinois Family Law Help You Deserve!
We’ve seen it all, the horror stories, the drawn out custody fights, the bitter divorces over property or because of a cheating spouse. That is not to say we are callous and uncaring to your situation just because we’ve seen the worst of the worst. By connecting with us, for free, you will not only be connected to a skilled Illinois family law expert that knows your rights, but one that is compassionate to your needs and emotions as well. Our professional network prides themselves on putting your emotional needs first to help you move on to the next chapter in your life. Getting in touch with an Illinois family law attorney is essential to protecting your rights and your emotional well-being.
What Laws Are Used for Illinois Family Law Cases?
Illinois family law cases are governed by a combination of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (commonly called the IMDMA and found at 750 ILCS 5/) and thousands of Illinois Appellate and Illinois Supreme Court case decisions. Because of the complexity of these laws and the ways in which various Appellate court decisions have interpreted the meaning and use of the statutes, attempting to go through an Illinois family law case without a knowledgeable attorney is not recommended. Oftentimes, the plain, everyday meaning of terms and phrases in the statutes are not how the statutes and laws are applied in court, as seen by differing court opinions that constantly change the application of the laws. Our Illinois family law attorneys know how to apply these laws and rules to your personal case and get you what you deserve.
Illinois Divorce Help and Advice
As we mentioned earlier, Illinois family laws are complex, confusing, and have been modified due to thousands of judges interpreting the law in different ways. This is why, should you find yourself in a situation where you are considering divorce, you should speak to a skilled divorce lawyer first to understand your rights. Illinois is what is known as a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that, for the most part, grounds, such as adultery, abandonment, etc., to divorce your spouse are not necessary. In fact, more than 90% of Illinois divorces are on grounds of Irreconcilable Differences, which is essentially no fault. The remaining divorces are usually on grounds of mental or physical cruelty, as well as a few others. Illinois family law guidelines provide for a more simple route by divorcing under no-fault rules.
The reason for Illinois being a no fault state is obvious: if you had to actually prove that your spouse did something wrong (cheated on you, etc.), every case would be forced into a trial, with both sides putting on evidence and testimony from witnesses as to what happened. The system would grind to a halt, and for the most part, people would not be able to prove the grounds they rely on, and thus, would not be allowed to divorce. This is why Illinois is a no fault divorce state (along with every other state in the country). The basic guidelines for a no fault Illinois divorce are as follows, and based on Irreconcilable Differences, as defined in statute at: 750 ILCS 5/401(a)(2), explained below:
• The parties have been separated* for 6-months or longer;
• One of the parties must have been a resident of Illinois for at least the last 90-days prior to filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or prior to the court date when the parties are divorced; and
• The parties agree that Irreconcilable Differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, that past efforts at reconciling the marriage have failed, and that future efforts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.
When these minimum thresholds are met, the parties can proceed with having a Judgment, Marital Settlement Agreement, Parenting Agreement, and all other documents entered and ordered by the Judge. With a skilled Illinois family law attorney on your side, you can get through this process in a quicker, more manageable way and hopefully turn a contested divorce into an uncontested divorce.
*(‘separated’, for purposes of Illinois law, does NOT mean that the married couple has to actually have moved into different residences – it means that either: a. the parties marriage is irretrievably broken and has been broken for greater than 6-months; or b. the parties actually have moved into separate residences 6-months ago or longer).
Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce in Illinois
Only two-types of divorces exist: a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce (agreed divorce). The difference between the two is no small matter – this is where all the big decisions are made, depending on what type of divorce you will go through. An Illinois uncontested divorce is where both parties agree on all major issues of ending the marriage: what to do with the property, bank accounts, children, visitation, child support, vehicles, etc., and can come to an agreement on everything for the sake of ending the marriage on a positive note. A contested divorce, by contrast, is usually the one that is depicted on TV or in the movies – the parties argue over the disposition of property, they fight over custody of the children, and, in bad instances, they even involve orders of protection and restraining orders enforced by the police. Illinois family law attorneys understand that the differences here could mean years being extended to the divorce process. Our Illinois family law attorneys will explain what your particular situation calls for – speak with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney today!
Getting the right Illinois divorce help and advice can often turn what could be a highly contested, long drawn out divorce into an uncontested matter. When parties simply cannot get along, an attorney can step in, negotiate the terms of the parties, and help them find common ground. This only happens when both parties realize that there is only so much that the courts will do, and in the end, after much fighting, what the attorney attempting to mediate the situation has proposed, is probably what the judge would decide 3-years later at trial. Keep in mind that in Illinois, uncontested divorces can be completed in as little as 2-weeks in some instances, whereas contested divorce battles can and do last for years and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Only a skilled Illinois family law attorney can provide the right divorce help and advice to help get you through the process as smoothly as possible.
Illinois Child Custody Help and Advice (now called Allocation of Parental Responsibilities)
Of all the Illinois family law issues that exist, none are more intense than those dealing with child custody issues. Illinois no longer uses the term “child custody”, instead, Illinois uses the phrase: Allocation of Parental Responsibilities, Parenting Time, and Decision Making. Illinois child custody matters (cases involving the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time) revolve around deciding which parent will be the primary residential parent. In the past, this used to be discussed as a parent being a custodial parent or a noncustodial parent (the custodial parent being the person that has the majority of time with the children).
Under the old Illinois law, the noncustodial parent would be the parent that has ‘visitation’ rights with the child. However, since the laws in Illinois were rewritten in their entirety in 2016, the term ‘visitation’ no longer exists in Illinois either (with some exceptions – such as grandparents rights, or other 3rd parties). Now, we refer to both parents as having ‘parenting time’ with their kids. One parent might have more parenting time than the other, or even the same/equal amount of parenting time. Illinois family law courts prefer to have parents agree on issues regarding raising the children, and they prefer parents to agree to a shared allocation of parental responsibility and to openly discuss significant decision making responsibilities together in a positive manner. However, this is not always possible, and when parents cannot agree, the courts will order one parent to have the primary allocation of parental responsibility (what used to be known as ‘sole custody’ of the children.
Illinois follows the “best interests of the child” standard (available at: 750 ILCS 5/602.5), which means the court considers various aspects such as: the moral fitness of each parent, the emotional needs of the children, the developmental needs of the children, the relationship between the children and each parent, the parents living arrangements, and many others. One of our Illinois family law attorneys will explain how this is applied to your particular situation when you contact us!
Decision Making and Allocation of Parental Responsibility
(formerly Joint vs. Sole Custody)
As previously mentioned, Illinois no longer recognizes or uses the terms ‘sole custody’ or ‘joint custody’. Now, Illinois discusses child related issues as the allocation of parental responsibilities, thanks to a 2016 rewrite of Illinois law. That entails what the courts describe as decision-making rights between the parties. Specifically, Illinois statute (found here at: 750 ILCS 5/602.5), states that the court shall decide which parent (or if both parents) should have the significant decision-making responsibilities affecting a child. Some of the significant decisions would be:
- Religion; and
- Extracurricular activities.
The court will decide which parent (or maybe both parents) have the significant decision-making responsibilities by looking at the case in the “best interest of child” standard. This is a similar standard to the vast majority of states. As the court states in a precedent setting case in 1991: the focus of the court is therefore on the child, not on the parent: “Charge with guaranteeing the best interest of the children in a custody dispute.” In re Marriage of Radae, 208 Ill. App. 3d 1027, 1029.
The best interests of the child standard involves many different elements, such as: (1) the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making; (2) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; (3) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (4) the ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making; (5) the level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child; (6) any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision-making with respect to the child; (7) the wishes of the parents; and (8) the child’s needs. See Illinois statute here at 750 ILCS 5/602.5(c)
Based on this “best interests of the child” standard, the court will determine whether one or both parents should have decision making authority regarding their children.
Gone are the days of the parent being granted sole decision making (what used to be known as sole custody) being able to deny access to the children or having the ability to move out of state with the children. Having a parenting agreement in place, even with one parent having primary decision-making abilities, lays out dozens of different rights and responsibilities for each parent to follow. Finding out what your rights are and speaking with an expert is easy; we’ve got a team of Illinois family law attorneys waiting to answer your questions
Illinois Child Support Help and Advice
At one point, Illinois child support cases were relatively simple: the parent that owes support applies a percentage of their net income for child support. For example: 1-child was 20%; 2-children was 28%, and so on. In 2017, the child support rules changed, in a drastic way. Illinois now follows what is called the “Income Shares” method of calculating child support. It is extremely difficult now to ‘eyeball’ what support should be as numerous rules apply that range from the percentage of overnights each parent has with a child per year to the combined net income of both parties (but net income is NOT the same as a persons take home pay – Illinois uses a different calculation for net income than what is found on an individual’s tax returns). Because of the complexity now, it is essential that an experienced child support attorney be consulted to make sure the correct amount of support is ordered by the court.
Illinois child support is governed by statute, which can be found here: 750 ILCS 5/505. Within the statute, authority is given to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, (also referred to as ‘HFS’), to write and enact specific rules for the calculation of child support – and this can and does have the ability to be changed and modified. Many Illinois lawyers don’t keep up with the changes to the HFS rules, but experienced and knowledgeable attorneys do so on a regular basis (click here for the link to HFS rules that constantly change). The point of these rules is to ensure that a reasonable amount of support is provided for the “best interests of the children.”
What About Additional Child-Related Expenses?
Illinois child support rules are specifically written to provide for a basic amount to be applied toward a range of expenses such as food, housing, clothing, and even medical care. However, child support is not something that is itemized – a parent paying child support can’t demand to see how the support was spent or for what purposes it was used.
As the law states in 750 ILCS 5/505, “the court, in its discretion, in addition to the basic child support obligation, may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to the child to contribute to the reasonable childcare expenses of the child” (see: 750 ILCS 5/505(a)3.7). This same language is used to add in additional payments for other child-related expenses as well, such as extracurricular expenses (see: 750 ILCS 5/505(a)3.6); educational expenses, and healthcare related expenses (see: 750 ILCS 5/505(a)4).
A number of exemptions used for calculating net income for purposes of child support was covered in depth in the case of In Re: the Marriage of Ackerley, 333 Ill.App.3d 382 (2d Dist. 2002).
In the above-mentioned case, (Marriage of Ackerley 333 Ill.App.3d 382 (2d. Dist. 2002), a father who now earned over $500,000.00 a year had previously been ordered to pay child support based off his lower income level at the time of the divorce. However, he failed to disclose bonuses as required by the initial court order. The Appellate court in this case found that at his new income level, he would be ordered to pay more than $5,000.00/month in child support, however the court felt that an amount that large would be a “windfall to the children.” This case represents just one example of how the guidelines for child support can be adjusted based on a number of factors and, of course, having an experienced Illinois family law attorney fighting on your side!
Illinois Father’s Rights Help
Times have changed and it is no longer the case that mothers are automatically granted the primary allocation of parental responsibility and the majority of parenting time (what used to be known as “sole custody”) just because they are the mom. Illinois father’s rights lawyers fight for dad’s custody rights and equal parenting time. The courts have finally begun to recognize the fact that fathers, in many instances, are equal or better parents than the mother.
Studies show that children that grow up in fatherless homes are more likely to commit crimes and drop out of school. It is this reason that having a father in a child’s life is so important. Understanding the “best interests of the child” standard, (found at: 750 ILCS 5/602.5(c) ), means that a variety of issues must be explored and the decision must be made based on those guidelines. A plan needs to be developed in advance to ensure that facts of your specific case are tailored to the specific elements found within the law at 750 ILCS 5/602.5(c) to prove to the court that you are a great parent.
Illinois is one of the most pioneering states in the country when it comes to father’s rights. Because the court system understands that fathers have an irreplaceable role in a child’s life, they have begun to force mothers into mediation and oftentimes allow for a 50/50 parenting time split during the litigation process. By giving father’s the chance to play an integral role in their child’s life, a professional mediator or evaluator has the opportunity to really see which parent is the best for that child. But make no mistake about it, if you go it alone, you will almost certainly lose. With the help of an expert Illinois father’s rights lawyer on your side, you can rest assured that your rights will be preserved.
Get the Illinois Family Law Help and Advice You Deserve!
Illinois family law help is available with just the few clicks of your button or by picking up the phone and giving us a call. The difference between speaking with members of our team and someone else is simple: our Illinois family law attorneys are experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate. Illinois family law rules and statutes are complex and confusing, but with the right help on your side, you can get your life back on track. Illinois family law help and advice is here – get what you deserve!
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