An Illinois divorce is a painful process. Divorce is never an easy thing for anyone to go through. It affects your home life, your family, and even your career, but it doesn’t have to be an awful, painful, drawn out experience. With the right Illinois divorce help and advice from a professional and experienced Illinois divorce attorney, you can rest assured your rights will be protected. No one will treat you with the respect, compassion and professionalism as our team will, connect with us for the Illinois divorce help and advice you need right away.
Illinois Divorce Help and Compassionate Advice
Illinois divorce cases involve a few main issues, such as contested divorce, uncontested divorce agreed divorce), child custody, child support, maintenance (formerly known as alimony), and property division. In an Illinois divorce, it is very likely that, with the confusing laws and changes made to those laws on a yearly basis, that a seemingly simple uncontested matter can turn ugly and into a battle for the ages. This is where an experienced Illinois divorce attorney steps in to help mediate and avoid the battles wherever possible. Of course, when a fight needs to be had, our team is second to none and can fight it out and win against anyone out there.
What Laws Are Relied On in an Illinois Divorce Case?
Illinois divorce cases rely on a few specific set of statutes (laws) referred to as the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, otherwise known as the IMDMA, (which can be found in the Illinois Compiled Statutes at 750 ILCS 5/) and various Appellate and Illinois Supreme Court cases opinions that have interpreted the laws. Illinois divorces rely on a combination of both the statutes and the case law for application to an individuals specific facts and circumstances. A knowledgeable Illinois divorce attorney will keep herself or himself up to date on the laws and recent court decisions so that these rules can be applied to an individuals case the proper way.
Grounds for Divorce in Illinois
Illinois is what is known as a “no-fault” divorce state. This simply means that you do not need to prove any reason to be divorced, such as adultery, abandonment, physical or mental cruelty, or any of the other hot button issues usually seen in the movies. By far the most common type of divorce in Illinois is a no fault divorce, on grounds of “Irreconcilable Differences,” which means that irreconcilable differences have caused an irretrievable breakdown in your marriage, past efforts of resolving the issues have failed, and future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in your best interests. The short and sweet explanation is that the parties involved no longer get a long and wish to be divorced. An Illinois divorce based on irreconcilable differences follows a specific statute found in the IMDMA at 750 ILCS 5/401(a)(2).
Illinois does, however, allow for grounds for divorce, such as being naturally impotent, already married, adultery, desertion for over 1-year,habitual drunkenness for 2-years, addicted to drugs for 2-years, attempted murder of another person, mental cruelty, physical cruelty, and a few other lesser known grounds (750 ILCS 5/401(a)1). However, of these, the only ones that usually ever are used are grounds of physical or mental cruelty and they make up less than 10% of all divorces in Illinois, with irreconcilable differences making up more than 90% of Illinois divorces.
The reasons for an Illinois divorce being primarily on grounds of irreconcilable differences are simple: if you had to actually prove grounds, such as adultery, the system would grind to a halt and cases would last for years, or never be completed. Think about how difficult it would be to prove that your spouse cheated on you in a court of law. You would need actual, physical evidence, and this would make the process last too long. All Illinois no-fault divorces require is that (1.) the spouses have lived separate and apart for a period of 2-years (6-months with a waiver of the 2-year waiting period), and (2.) that irreconcilable differences have caused the marriage to fail and future attempts at reconciling would be impracticable. Understanding how this is applied in reality is different than what the plain meaning of the statute states, which is why it is important to have an Illinois divorce attorney on your side!
What Does Living “Separate and Apart” Mean in an Illinois Divorce?
An excellent and much relied upon appellate opinion that defines some of the no-fault provisions of an Illinois divorce can be seen in in the case of In Re Marriage of Kenik, 181 Ill. App. 3d 266 (1989). The provision referring to “living separate and apart” for a no-fault irreconcilable differences divorce does not mean living in separate houses. To the contrary, in the above cited Kenik case, the Illinois First District Appellate Court stated that “under the no-fault provisions of section 401(a)(2), dissolution (divorce) is predicated upon a finding of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage due to irreconcilable differences” and “in our opinion, this is a state which can be realized without physical distance between the parties.” To clarify, the Appellate Court is making it clear that “separate and apart” does NOT mean living in separate houses, it simply means that the parties must live separate lives or believe the marriage has ended. A couple examples of these types of things are no longer eating meals together or having sexual relations.
Our team of Illinois divorce attorneys know that this is a difficult time for you, but we will give you the best Illinois divorce advice possible to help you through the process. Speaking with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney is the easiest way to make sure that you get things moving down the right path.
Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce in Illinois
There are basically only to-types of divorces that take place in Illinois: a contested divorce, or an uncontested divorce. Contested divorces are those that involve fighting and disagreement over ore issues of ending the marriage. These may deal with child custody, child visitation, child support, division of property, maintenance (alimony), or other hot topics. When the parties to an Illinois divorce do not agree, the judge will set hearings for the parties and their attorneys to argue and make their case that they should be awarded either the property, money or the children. Contested divorces can take a long time to complete, as many of them frequently settle right before a trial date is set and after many hearings and court dates. I?t is not unusual for contested Illinois divorce cases to take more than 18-months before a trial takes place.
Contrast that with an uncontested divorce where the parties either agree on all the issues involved, or they use their attorneys to mediate the conflicts and negotiate settlements between the two parties. In most cases, this is how Illinois divorces work. The attorneys negotiate and work on a plan that involves a give and take approach to settle the dispute before communication breaks off in anger and desperation. An experienced Illinois divorce lawyer knows when to advise her/his client to settle and when to fight. This divorce advice is important to follow; they are the professionals in the situation. In fact, many cases that appear to be contested can be turned into an uncontested divorce quickly with the right Illinois divorce help and advice. Speaking with someone on our team is free, and you should get started right away to protect your rights by getting the Illinois divorce help you deserve!
Child Custody Help in an Illinois Divorce
Of all the reasons that divorcing couples fight in Illinois, none are more heated and emotional than those involving child custody and child visitation. Illinois allows for there to be one of two different types of custody, each with separate and distinct rights and responsibilities depending on the circumstances. Illinois divorce courts will grant the parents either joint custody or sole custody of the children. The differences are not quite what they used to be years ago, but big differences do exist. Only an experienced Illinois family law attorney can let you know what the differences are for your particular situation, but there are some important aspects you should be aware of.
What Laws Do Illinois Courts Follow for Child Custody Determinations?
Illinois divorce laws provided for in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) control regarding issues of child custody in the Illinois divorce process. Specifically, IMDMA Part VI (750 ILCS 5/601 – Child Custody) applies to all custody determinations in the State of Illinois. Illinois child custody matters primarily follow the idea that stability and predictability in a child’s life are important for their own personal comfort and growth. thus, Illinois divorce courts frequently do not believe it is in the child’s best interest to continuously having custody modified without a serious cause being shown.
Illinois follows what is known as the “best interest of the child” standard when determining child custody issues. This is found in Section 602 of the IMDMA which is specifically titled: Best Interest of the Child.” The best interest of the child standard is common in most states across the country, but is specific in Illinois according to statutory authority and years of case law and Appellate court opinions. This “Best Interest” standard is based off of numerous factors, including:
- the wishes of the child’s parent;
- the wishes of the child as to his custodian (given little weight);
- the interaction of the child with his parent, and his siblings;
- the child’s adjustment to school, community and his home;
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- the physical violence or threat of physical violence by either parent or potential custodian;
- the occurrence of or ongoing abuse against the child or another individual;
- the willingness of the parents to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the minor child;
- whether one parent is a convicted sex offender;
This means that the court will look at both parents living arrangements, history of drug abuse, violence, work history, the relationship between the children and the parents individually, and many other factors to make a decision on which parent the children should live with on a regular basis. Whether sole custody or joint custody is granted, the courts will decide who the “residential parent (also known as the custodial parent) is and who the nonresidential parent (also known as noncustodial parent) is in the divorce. This means that the children will live full-time with one parent, and the other parent will have visitation rights, which can be anything from every other weekend to a 50/50 split in parenting time.
Join Custody in an Illinois Divorce
Most divorcing parents initially attempt to work out an arrangement whereby they will have joint custody of the children during divorce. This does not necessarily mean that they will share time with the children on a 50/50 basis. Rather, it means that the parties will have joint decision making rights and responsibilities for raising the children, such as schooling, doctor’s visits, and extracurricular activities the children participate in. This is what Illinois divorce courts want most people to do, as it is best for the children. However, this is not always the case, and a judge will not order joint custody if the parents cannot get along. In fact, not all Illinois divorce courts believe that an order of Joint custody is necessarily good for the children if it alters living arrangements on a frequent basis or if the court does not believe that the parents can cooperate effectively.
The Illinois Fourth District Appellate court case opinion of In Re: the Marriage of Oros (256 Ill. App. 3d 167; 627 N.E.2d 1246 (1994), explains reasons why some Illinois courts do not agree with an award of joint custody at all. In the case of Oros, the minor child was placed in an arrangement where he was transferred between the mothers and the father’s residences every three-months. This had, quite obviously, distressed the child and caused conflict between the parents as well. The Appellate court stated, “rarely does the ‘Solomonic’ approach to custody (dividing the baby in half) inure to the benefit of the young child.” The Appellate Court went even further and specifically said that in most cases, they don’t believe joint custody is even a good idea; “we have expressed our disfavor of joint custody arrangements, which in all but rare instances” work out for the child’s best interests.
Sole Custody in an Illinois Divorce
When two parents cannot get along on major issues dealing with raising the children, an Illinois divorce judge will order one of the parents to have sole custody of the children. The other parent may still be granted liberal visitation rights with the children, maybe multiple overnight visits every week, but final decision making authority on schooling, doctor’s visits, discipline, and extracurricular activities will be decided by the parent granted sole custody. As stated in an Illinois Appellate court case, In Re: the Marriage of Duffy (307 ILll.App.3d 257), “Generally, the custodial (residential parent) has the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, education, health care, and religious training.” Parents worried about ending up in a situation where sole custody may be granted to the other parent need not worry too much, because that parent will still not be allowed to just pick up and move or deny you the visitation rights that you deserve. However, there are serious ramifications for having sole custody that can affect big things in the future, so it is important to get a experienced Illinois divorce help and advice to protect your rights to obtaining joint custody or winning sole custody yourself!
Maintenance Help (Alimony Help) in an Illinois Divorce
Illinois is one of a shrinking number of states that still allows maintenance to be permanent in nature should the parties agree on that, or should a judge order it. For this reason it is essential to hire a trial-tested winner on maintenance and alimony divorce issues to protect your rights. For the most part, alimony does not come into play in divorces for younger (under 40 years old) couples that are both employed with similar salaries. However, there exist a multitude of reasons where alimony can be ordered, such as one parent deciding to be a stay at home parent while the other works and gets experience ad earns the money. Illinois divorce courts rely on the statute that specifically refers to maintenance, 750 ILCS 5/501 (Temporary Support), and 750 ILCS 5/504 (Maintenance). Other reasons may involve the education and salary disparity between the two spouses and another reason may be that one of the parties has developed a serious health issues that prevents them from becoming gainfully employed. In any event, the marriage must have lasted for a reasonable amount of time for the most part, for maintenance (alimony) to be an issue at all.
Because maintenance and alimony can have a huge impact on what direction your divorce is going to take, it is necessary to speak with a member of our team to understand the impacts it could have on your life going forward. Maintenance may only be ordered temporarily (usually called “rehabilitative maintenance), for a specific sum of money (called “maintenance in gross”), or permanent in nature. Our team members are no stranger to fights over alimony, and we will give you the divorce help and advice that you deserve.
Property Division Help in an Illinois Divorce
Illinois divorce attorneys that are worth their weight in gold will all tell you that when it comes to dividing property in an Illinois divorce, there is no set rule and fights frequently occur. Illinois follows the “equitable distribution of property” rule when it comes to deciding whether to divide property or let one party keep it to themselves. An equitable distribution of property does NOT mean that marital property (property acquired or converted to joint property during the marriage) is split evenly, on a 50/50 basis. An equitable distribution of property means that the courts will look at the property as a whole to decide who should get what amount of it. Factors that are considered are who paid for the property and with what funds, did both parties pay for part of it, did one party make substantial improvements to the property, and would it be equitable or fair to divide the property (or the value of the property) a certain way.
There is no set formula for determining what the equitable distribution of property is, which is why many attorneys use these as negotiating points to reach a complete agreement on the divorce as a whole. In some instances, parties may agree to waive their interest in the others pension or 401k account in exchange for keeping the house and the equity in the house. This is where getting experienced Illinois divorce help and advice pays off – it avoids a fight and gets you what you deserve!
Child Support During an Illinois Divorce
Illinois divorce cases frequently involve child support both during the divorce process as well as after it is concluded. Illinois generally follows a set guideline of child support that is based on the noncustodial (nonresidential) parents net income, or the income after business expenses, taxes, and insurance are taken out. The guidelines for Illinois child support can be found at 750 ILCS 5/505 and are as follows:
• 1-child = 20% of net income
• 2-children = 28% of net income
• 3-children = 32% of net income
• 4-children = 40% of net income
• 5-children = 45% of net income
• 6 or more kids = 50% of net income
It looks simple enough, right? Think again. For both parents that are paying child support and parents that are receiving child support, hundreds of exceptions apply that can either raise or lower the percentage amount that should be paid for the children based on this general formula. Our team knows how to use the current laws to adjust child support up or down to fit your needs – no one will work harder to get you what you deserve. In fact, recent cases in Illinois have even popped up where a noncustodial parent receives child support from the custodial parent, as it has been adjudged that is what would be in “the child’s best interest” (see In Re: Marriage of Turk, where a father with sole custody of his children was ordered to pay child support to the mother who had limited visitation with the children). Understanding your rights begins with getting the right Illinois divorce help for your particular case. Connect with our team of Illinois divorce attorneys for free today!
Win Your Illinois Divorce Case!
The Illinois divorce lawyers that you can connect with here understand that your situation has its own unique details. Our experienced team never treats any case exactly the same because they aren’t the same. The divorce help that you will receive by speaking with one of our Illinois divorce attorneys will be tailored to your situation, whether it deals with child custody, alimony, or selling of the marital home. Working with a proven, experienced Illinois divorce attorney is the only sure-fire way to protect your rights when ending your marriage. We know that this is a difficult time in your life, which is why our team not only provides you with trial tested divorce attorney help, but with the compassion that you deserve. Contact our team right now to get the Illinois help and advice that you and your family deserve!