Divorce Law in Chicago, IL
Divorce Law refers to the legal termination of a marriage and often involves working through several complicated issues.
Are you facing a costly divorce in Chicago, Illinois? Does your estranged spouse have an attorney? Usually, couples going through a divorce are unable to compromise on most items and reach an agreement on their own. Thus, many couples go through mediation or the court system to resolve their case.
Issues Involved in Chicago, Illinois Divorce Law
There are many complicated issues that you need to settle during the divorce process. Many of these elicit strong emotions from one party or the other, resulting in volatility.
One of the most challenging issues in the divorce law process is dividing property, debts and assets. In many states, like Illinois, anything you and your spouse purchased over your marriage is subject to division. This includes things such as real estate, bank accounts, cars, stocks, etc. Some states split marital property evenly, while others go along an equitable split. In the latter, the judge weighs the contribution each spouse made to the marriage and uses that information to decide the disposition property, which may not equate to a perfect 50/50 division of your property, debt, and other assets..
Both parents are responsible for paying for the care of their children. There is a child support guideline that helps determine how much each parent should contribute based on their income and the amount of time they spend with the children. Child support pays for things such as healthcare, food, clothing and other basic needs.
Illinois Statutes dictate that child support in Chicago will be determined using the Income Shares Model. This model is based on the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have received if the household had remained intact. Child support in Chicago can be paid online through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
The Illinois Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) can begin collection activities as soon as a parent falls behind on payments. As well, the Secretary of State’s office has the authority to suspend driver’s licenses. The delinquent parent may face civil or criminal charges which can result in fines and incarceration.
Alimony, or spousal support, can vary dramatically depending on the marriage, and Chicago, IL divorce law court looks at multiple factors when determining the amount and length of alimony, including:
- A spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay
- The age and health of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s earning capacity and level of education
- The division of property
- Parental responsibility of the children
- Sole investments and assets of either spouse
The Illinois Legislature states that the courts will recognize four types of alimony in Chicago. The courts may grant temporary alimony, fixed-term alimony, reviewable alimony, and permanent alimony. However, alimony payments in Illinois cannot result in one spouse earning more than 40% of the couple’s combined income.
Child Custody and Visitation
Child custody is perhaps the most emotional issue during a divorce that involves children. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the court bases all decisions on what is in the best interest of the child. Keeping this in mind may help navigate the rough waters of custody.
Under Illinois Statute, the courts will consider several factors in Chicago custody cases, including the parents’ wishes and the child’s wishes. Additionally, the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community, as well as the mental and physical health of all involved are considered. As well, the distance between the parents’ residences, and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by a parent are also deemed relevant.
Generally, Chicago, Illinois courts award joint legal custody giving both parents the legal right to make decisions for the children, such as education, medical care and religious practices. Legal custody has nothing to do with physical custody or visitation. Joint custody does not mean both parents split time with the child evenly, just as Sole legal custody does not bar the non-custodial parent from visiting the child.
The Process of Going Through Divorce Law in Chicago, Illinois
Are you leaning towards getting a divorce from your partner? If so, it is important to understand the necessary steps of the divorce law process.
Step 1: File the Divorce Law Petition
The divorce law process begins when one spouse files a legal petition to terminate the marriage. The petition must include:
- A legal reason for divorce (grounds for divorce)
- A statement that shows at least one spouse meets the state’s residency requirements for divorce
- Other statutory information your state requires
Most states offer the option for filing a no-fault divorce, which does not require a legal reason for the divorce.
You can obtain a no-fault divorce in Chicago if “irreconcilable differences” is listed as the grounds for divorce.
Step 2: Request Temporary Orders
The divorce law process in Chicago can take several months, but temporary orders can be requested and approved for a multitude of reasons, including:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Property restraining orders
- Status quo orders
Request temporary orders as quickly as possible so you are not absent the resources or protection that you need.
Step 3: Serve Your Spouse and Wait for Their Response
If you are the one who files a petition for divorce, you must have your spouse served with their divorce law papers and then file a proof of service with the courts. If your spouse accepts service, then they need to fill out an affidavit to that effect. However, in many cases, the petitioner must hire a process server or sheriff to formally serve the petition on the other spouse. It is this third-party who then records the proof of service.
Step 4: Try To Come to an Agreement
The best outcome for anyone going through this process is to have an uncontested divorce, meaning both spouses agree on all issues.
Both partners can reach an agreement themselves, or with the help of a mediator. Not only will this save each spouse money, but there will typically be a lot less animosity.
Step 5: Go To Court
If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, then the case continues before a Chicago, IL judge. While there is some benefit to having a judge hand down orders, it may also be a detriment as there is little to no control of the agreement by the parties.
In Illinois, divorce cases are handled by the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court. If you live in Chicago, you will typically have your divorce case heard in the Domestic Relations Division of the Cook County Circuit Court.
Step 6: Receive the Judgement of Divorce
The divorce law trial will end with the official judgment of divorce, ending the marriage. This final dissolution of marriage sets out the details about property and debt division, child custody and all relevant issues between the couple.
Work With an Experienced Chicago, Illinois Divorce Law Attorney
If you are going through a divorce and are unable to reach an agreement with your partner, you should hire an experienced Chicago divorce law attorney. A lawyer will fight for you and make sure you get what is yours. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Illinois state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!