Divorce in Illinois allows you to terminate a marriage because of irreconcilable differences. The process in our state allows for couples to dissolve marriages quickly and efficiently, as long as they are in agreement about the terms. If they are not in agreement, the terms of divorce must be negotiated or decided by a judge. In all types of divorces, whether contested or uncontested, having an experienced family law attorney on your side protects your rights and your best interests.
To learn more, please browse the sections below. For a free consultation with our experienced, compassionate Libertyville and Waukegan divorce lawyers, please call the Law Offices of Thaddeus M. Bond, Jr. & Associates at 847-599-9101.
- Divorce in Illinois
- 5 Typical Phases of Divorce Proceedings
- Spousal Maintenance
- Child Custody – Parenting Responsibilities
- Child Support
- Property Division
- Your Free Consultation
View a sample contract.
Divorce in Illinois
Divorce is also known as dissolution of marriage in Illinois. In our state, divorce is technically no-fault only. No longer do contested divorces based on proving fault hinge on whether one spouse can prove adultery, substance abuse, abandonment or other grounds. Instead, divorce proceedings must show only the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Our experienced attorneys will help you dissolve the marriage.
"Is there a waiting period?" In an uncontested divorce where both parties agree to the terms, there is no required waiting period. If you or your spouse contests or challenges the terms or the divorce itself, then there is an option of a 6-month separation period. This separation does not mean you must live at separate addresses, but that you are living separate lives.
It goes without saying that the end of a marriage is an emotionally charged period of your life. In addition to any emotional pain you may be experiencing, divorce also has implications for your future and your children's future, financially and otherwise. Before divorce is granted, the following must be settled:
- Division of property
- Division of debt
- Alimony payments, if applicable
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
As experienced divorce attorneys, we will:
- Protect your rights and your interests
- Provide informed and experienced guidance
- Make sure you know what your options are
Call us for more information about how we can help you dissolve your marriage with the most beneficial, amicable outcomes. We provide our legal services for all aspects of the process, including filing the petition for dissolution of marriage, filing restraining orders if appropriate, and discovery of assets and debts. Our attorneys negotiate terms in your best interest while maintaining professionalism with the other party.
Mediation is a way for you and your ex-spouse to work out the terms of the divorce with minimal or no decisions made by a judge. It puts the decision-making and terms in the hands of you and your former partner. Many issues can be resolved through mediation, including:
- Parental responsibilities
- Parental time (i.e. custody and visitation)
- Debt division
- Division of real estate, investments and other assets
- Spousal support
Mediators are neutral third parties. The idea is that the mediator does not have a preference for the interests of one party over the other. If an agreement cannot be reached through mediation, you can rest assured that the sessions were confidential. The mediator cannot talk to the judge or anyone else about what happened during those sessions.
June M. Peterson-Gleason is an experienced mediator from the Law Offices of Thaddeus M. Bond, Jr. & Associates. Mediation has the following benefits:
- The process is private. Only the people actually involved in the conflict, those who represent them, and those who are needed to resolve the problem should attend.
- Participation is voluntary. No resolution should be forced on any participant. Any resolution is by mutual agreement.
- The people involved control the outcome of the mediation. People are responsible for their conflict and choosing their own solutions.
- Informed choices are made. The people involved must have enough information with which to make informed decisions about their conflict's resolution.
- Mediation is confidential. Others do not need to know about what happens in the mediation unless there are compelling reasons to limit confidentiality and the participants and the mediator agree that it would be beneficial.
June manages the process, but has no stake in or ability to decide the outcome of the dispute. Our mediation attorney:
- Provides a comfortable facility to meet if needed
- Assists with getting the correct people into the meetings
- Manages emotions
- Helps to ease communication
- Provides for the safe, constructive exchange of information
- Reminds the people involved that the agreement must be mutually acceptable
- Reality-tests the plan and, if necessary, documents the agreement
- Keeps the focus on problem-solving
- Teaches negotiation skills
- Ensures the process keeps moving
Call our law firm today to find out if our mediation services can help you resolve the dissolution of your marriage in an efficient, agreeable manner.
5 Typical Phases of Divorce Proceedings
Typical divorce proceedings in our state follow this pattern:
One party to the marriage may begin the legal process for the dissolution of marriage by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The person filing the initial petition is referred to as the "Petitioner." The party responding to the proceedings is referred to as the "Respondent."
Once the petition is filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the appropriate County, the Petition and a Summons will be served upon the respondent by a sheriff or a private process server.
2. The Response
Once served, the Respondent has 30 days to file an appearance and written response. If the Respondent fails to file a Response in this time, the Petitioner may request the Court to hold the Respondent in default to proceed with the divorce.
If either party requires that formal restraining orders or injunctions be placed against the other party, either party may file pleadings with the Court to request protection for themselves, dependent children or marital property.
The next step in the process is referred to as "discovery." This is the formal investigation the parties participate in to assist in disclosing all financial documentation relating to the parties' assets and debts. Assets and debts of the parties need to be classified as "marital property" or "non-marital" property. Assets and debts accumulated by the parties during their marriage may be classified as "marital property" unless it is:
- Property acquired by gift, legacy or descent
- Property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, legacy or descent
- Property acquired by a spouse after a judgment of legal separation
- Property excluded from the tally of marital property by valid agreement of the parties
- Any judgment or property obtained by judgment awarded to a spouse from the other spouse
- Property acquired before the marriage
- The increase in value of property acquired by a method listed above
- Income from the property acquired by a method listed above, if the income is not attributable to the personal effort of a spouse.
There may be exceptions to the above based upon the particular facts and circumstances of individual cases.
If either party is concerned about information being hidden from them or one party handled all the finances during a marriage, discovery is a tool to be used in gaining information about the parties' financial picture. During this process of gathering information, our firm can assist you in using the appropriate discovery tools to be sure all pertinent information is obtained.
4. Negotiated Settlement
Once all information has been exchanged so both parties' have a working knowledge of their financial picture, values have been obtained for various assets and debts, property is identified as marital and/or non-marital, then the parties can begin the process of discussing and negotiating a final settlement.
It is during this process that our firm can assist you in making an informed decision about your present and future needs. As skilled negotiators experienced in the area of domestic relations cases, we can assist you in objectively assessing the areas most important to you in moving forward, to hopefully resolve issues in a practical, sensible manner, taking into consideration your desires and the needs of your family.
Many cases involve child custody/visitation issues as well as financial assets and debts to work through during the negotiation process. Both of these areas can be very emotional for people and difficult to work through in a rational, sensible way. We strive to ensure your desires for your child's well being in custody/visitation matters receive attention. We also strive to ensure you receive a fair and equitable division of the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage.
We understand that the divorce process is not only an emotionally draining experience, but it can also be a financially draining experience. Our lawyers are sensitive to the time it takes to resolve your case. We are very conscious of the costs involved and do not proceed with unnecessary measures that will drive the costs of the case up. We proceed with care, input and authorization from you. If you and your spouse are unable to come to a mutually agreeable settlement, then the case may proceed to trial.
During a trial, we will help you present all the relevant facts and evidence to the judge to allow the judge to reach a fair and equitable result. Together, we will assist you in deciding how to proceed with the case, necessary witnesses, experts and documents, which support your position. We will assist you in compiling appropriate documentary evidence, including, if necessary, the use of investigators to acquire vital information. We work to ensure the judge receives all relevant, pertinent and appropriate information, which is the basis of your case.
Spousal Maintenance – Alimony
Alimony or spousal support is called spousal maintenance in Illinois. Maintenance, like child custody, can be one of the most contentious and emotional aspects of divorce. Maintenance means one spouse pays another spouse money in a certain amount, for a certain time. Payments are decided based on statutory guidelines as well as the judge's discretion.
These payments may be indefinite, temporary for the duration of the divorce, or for a specific amount of time to allow the ex-spouse to gain employment.
Maintenance may be ordered when one of the ex-spouses is not able to support themselves financially, for various reasons. Perhaps that spouse has been unable to work or unable to complete higher education because of childcare duties. There are many other reasons as well. Maintenance may be ordered for men as well as for women; the law does not differ by gender. It's also important to note that maintenance is not a part of every divorce; it does not have to be ordered.
To decide if alimony should be paid, the judge may consider the following factors:
- Combined income while you were married
- Length of marriage in years
- Properties owned
- Each spouse's earning capacity
- Physical limitations
- Mental conditions that would affect employability
- Lifestyle during the marriage
- Each spouse's contributions to childcare and household duties during the marriage
- Agreements made between the ex-spouses during or prior to marriage
- Financial and time requirements for an ex-spouse to become employed
If the judge decides one spouse should receive support, the next step is to determine how much and for how long. Under Illinois law, if your combined income in your marriage is at or below a certain threshold, then the judge must follow statutory guidelines and formulas for determining the amount and duration of maintenance. If your combined income exceeds the threshold, the judge is allowed to use their own discretion in calculating support.
If your marriage lasted 20 years or more, the judge can decide whether the maintenance should last the same number of years the marriage did, or if the maintenance should last indefinitely (which was formerly called permanent maintenance). Indefinite support payments continue until a qualifying event ends the alimony. Events include remarriage, retirement, death and certain other things.
As experienced divorce lawyers, we will help you negotiate alimony. Typically it is in the interest of both parties to agree to spousal maintenance terms as part of their negotiated settlement agreement. If consensus cannot be reached, then the judge will determine support. Rely on our attorneys to fight for what is in your best interest every step of the way.
Child Custody – Parenting Responsibilities
In Illinois, what used to be called child custody is now called parenting responsibilities. The state made this change in 2016 to better reflect that what is in the best interests of the child is allocating parenting responsibilities, not necessarily awarding one parent custody and one parent visitation hours.
In the context of divorce, custody issues may be arranged one of two ways:
- In a parenting plan, also called a joint parenting agreement. This arrangement is usually preferable as it involves the two ex-spouses working out the terms of parenting responsibilities with the help of their lawyers.
- As part of an allocation judgement, which is ordered by the court when the parents are unable or unwilling to agree to parenting terms.
The allocation judgement is decided based on many factors, with the ultimate guiding factor being what is in the best interest of the child. That may involve consideration of where the child goes to school, which parent has traditionally been the primary caretaker, and the child's preferences. These judgements are typically decided in a trial, and may include witnesses and expert testimony. These decisions are gender neutral, so a mother does not have a presumption of custody.
Parenting responsibilities in Illinois designate each parent's time with the child, as well as each parent's share of decision-making responsibilities, which fall into 4 categories:
- Extra-curricular and after-school activities
Decision-making responsibilities are determined in a parenting plan or allocation judgement. They do not have to be equally split among the parents. In fact, one parent may be allocated decision-making in all 4 categories. Most often, these decisions are divided between the parents based on what is best for the child.
As for time spent with the child, many factors are considered, including how much time is spent with the child currently. Another factor is where the child goes to school. Sometimes the court seeks to split time evenly or otherwise fairly between parents, but not always.
Ex-spouses disputing child custody may wish to attend mediation to attempt to resolve the issue. Our lawyers can help you make the most of mediation to make a Joint Parenting Agreement.
If the mediation is not successful, we will guide you through discovery, pretrial conferences and eventually trial. During the process the court may appoint a guardian ad litem, child representative or lawyer for the child. The court may also appoint its own investigator to make recommendations to the court.
In Illinois, child support decisions are based on a model of income shares. This means each parent's income is factored into the calculation, including the parent who is receiving the support. The state also considers the parents' incomes relevant to one another, and how much time each parent spends with the child.
First, the court will determine a lump sum of support the child needs. Then, they use the calculations outlined by state statute, as well as the factors described above, to determine what each parent must pay.
Although there is a formula involved with the calculation of child support, having an experienced attorney on your side can help. We will make sure all aspects are carried out correctly. If you do not want to leave this issue up to the court, we can provide an experienced mediator for you and your ex-partner to discuss terms. If it goes to a judge, we will fight tirelessly for your parenting rights.
Property and Asset Division
In a marriage, you acquire property and other assets (real estate, money, investments) as a couple. You may also have assets from before your marriage. When a marriage is dissolved, these things must be divided up. Generally, anything acquired during the marriage is considered "marital property," while pre-marriage items are not considered marital property.
Like other aspects of divorce, asset division can be decided and agreed upon between the ex-spouses with the aid of their lawyers, or the courts decide it for you if you cannot come to an agreement or contest any of the terms.
Illinois is an equitable division state. This does not mean property and assets are divided 50/50 between the parties. Instead, it is a reasonable and just division in the eyes of the court that is not always equal. To determine this equitable division, the court may factor in:
- How many years you were married
- Lifestyle during the marriage
- The age of you and your former spouse
- Physical health
- Real estate and other assets brought into the marriage
Like all aspects of divorce, property division can be stressful. As the calm, cool-headed advocates on your side, our experienced attorneys will help you pursue the best path forward with your ex-spouse. Rely on us to look out for your interests while assets are being divvied up.
Your Free Consultation
For a FREE case evaluation with our experienced divorce attorneys in Waukegan and Libertyville, please call the Law Offices of Thaddeus M. Bond, Jr. & Associates at 847-599-9101. We proudly represent people from across Illinois, including all of Gurnee and Lake County.