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Divorce & Family Law FAQ

Who can legally file for divorce in Illinois?

Spouses wanting to file for divorce are required under 750 Illinois Compiled Statute (ILCS) § 5/401(a) to be Illinois residents for at least 90 days before they file for divorce.

What are the legal grounds for divorce in Illinois?

Whereas infidelity, substance abuse, and domestic violence can all be common causes of divorce in Illinois, the only ground that the state will recognize is irreconcilable differences, simply meaning that two spouses can no longer relate and must terminate their relationship. Under ILCS § 5/401, irreconcilable differences must have caused the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage and efforts at reconciliation have failed or future attempts will be impracticable and not in the best interests of a family. Proving irreconcilable differences requires both spouses to live separately and apart for six months.

How much does it cost to get a divorce in Illinois?

The costs involved in obtaining a divorce in Illinois can vary depending on the specific factors relating to a case. For example, an uncontested divorce will often move much quicker and may be finalized in only a matter of months, whereas a contested divorce could involve multiple court appearances and disputes that cause the case to stretch out for several years. Much of how quickly your own case resolves depends on your satisfaction with the progress that is made and how much you want to contest certain rulings.

How long will it take for me to finalize my divorce?

Once again, the amount of property and financial obligations that is in dispute often determines how long it will take for spouses to finalize their agreements. If you are expecting continuous issues relating to child custody, child support, or maintenance, then chances are likely that your divorce will also extend for several months. 

What does the court do when it comes to dividing marital property?

When spouses are dividing their marital property, Illinois is among the many states in the nation that uses what is known as an equitable distribution model. Equitable distribution means that all property will be divided in a manner that will be fair even if it is not entirely equal. Illinois has a does factors it uses to determine how much a party contributed to a marital estate, such as the dissipation of each party, the value of assigned property, the length of the marriage, relevant economic circumstances, prior marriages, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, each party’s statuses, parental responsibilities, maintenance awards, earning potential, and taxes.

How does a joint simplified dissolution work?

While a joint simplified dissolution can certainly be a very cost-effective resolution for many spouses, it can also be very challenging to qualify for. A person will only qualify for a Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage if they were married less than eight years, no children were born or adopted by the spouses during their relationship and the wife is not currently pregnant, joint, annual, gross income from all sources is less than $35,000, neither spouse has a gross annual income in excess of $20,000, total value of marital property is less than $10,000, and neither spouse owns any real estate. 

Can both spouses use the same attorney?

No, Illinois will not allow any lawyer to represent both parties in a divorce. It would be highly unethical for any attorney to try and represent the interests of both parties.

How does the true up clause work in an Illinois divorce?

When one spouse has an income that is expected to fluctuate, then a marital settlement agreement could likely contain what is known as a true up clause. The true up clause provides that both spouses exchange several financial documents every year, including tax documents, 1099s, W2s, and K-1s. True up agreements are difficult for most people to manage on their own, so it is usually beneficial to be sure you have legal representation that can comb through all of the details and figure out exactly what is owed.

How will child custody be determined in my divorce case?

When a judge is rendering a decision on a child custody matter in Illinois, the decision must be based on the child’s best interests. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) determines which state will be a child’s home state for custody matters involving spouses in separate states. 

Illinois usually retains jurisdiction to hear a child custody case if a child lived in Illinois for the past six months, a child lives out of state but lived in Illinois within the past six months and one of the child’s parents still lives in the state, or no other state is the child’s home state and either the child and at least one parent have significant connections with Illinois and substantial evidence exists in Illinois concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships. Judges handling divorce cases take multiple factors into account when making child custody decisions, such as a child’s physical and mental health and any adjustment to their home, school, and community.

How will child support work in my Illinois divorce case?

Courts are required to compute basic child support obligations under 750 ILCS 5/505 by determining each parent’s monthly net income, adding the parents’ monthly net incomes together to determine the combined monthly net income of the parents, selecting the corresponding appropriate amount from the schedule of basic child support obligations based on the parties’ combined monthly net income and number of children of the parties, and calculating each parent’s percentage share of the basic child support obligation. A parent with a greater share of parenting time is the recipient of child support while a parent with less parenting time pays child support. Parents can review child support determinations every three years, but there often needs to be a significant change in the life and circumstances of one party for a modification to be deemed appropriate.

Do people have to hire an attorney to get a divorce?

Illinois does not require any person to have a lawyer to finalize a divorce, but most people will see numerous benefits to retaining legal counsel. Unless spouses are in complete agreement on all terms of a divorce, chances are very likely that a person will be better served to work with an attorney.

How is a divorce different from a legal separation?

The bottom line is that a divorce will end a marriage while a legal separation allows two people to no longer live together but remain married. Legal separation may be a preferred alternative for certain couples who need to preserve the marriage for alternative reasons even though the relationship has become untenable.

Family Law Attorneys & Divorce Lawyers with Convenient Offices in Aurora & Naperville

Our experience and dedication to establishing successful attorney-client relationships allow us to provide clients with legal advice tailored to their specific situations. Our family law attorneys know the law, not just as it is in the legal books, but as it is practiced by the lawyers and judges in the area.

We invite potential clients to schedule a free initial consultation with us by calling 630-505-1515 or you can contact our Illinois family law firm through our online form.