The Basics of Divorce in Illinois
Over the last few years, there have been many dramatic changes made to the laws that govern divorce in the state of Illinois. Thus, it is hardly surprising that a person who may be considering ending his or her marriage would have questions about how to begin the process and what he or she should know in advance. While it may not be possible to answer all of them quickly and easily, a review of the basics may provide some guidance.
Residency, Venue, and Grounds
A person may seek a divorce in an Illinois court if at least one half of the couple has lived in Illinois for at least 90 days prior to filing the petition for divorce. The petition should be filed in the county where at least one of the spouses resides unless there is a good reason to hold the proceedings in a different county.
Illinois is a pure no-fault divorce state, which means that all divorces are granted on the basis that irreconcilable differences have caused an irreparable breakdown of the marriage. Behaviors such as infidelity, abuse, or abandonment are not considered in the divorce proceedings—except possibly during discussions about parental responsibilities and parenting time.
There is also no mandatory waiting period or separation period for a divorce in Illinois. If the spouse both agree to the divorce, the proceedings may continue immediately. If one spouse contests the divorce, a six-month separation is considered irrefutable proof that the marriage has broken down.
Division of Property and Maintenance
During a divorce, the court must ensure that the couple’s marital property is divided—either by mutual agreement or by court order. With few exceptions for gifts and inheritances, marital property is any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. If the couple cannot reach a settlement on their own, the court will allocate marital assets and debts equitably based on the circumstances of the marriage and divorce. “Equitable” means fair but not necessarily equal.
Maintenance, or alimony, is also awarded based on a review of the relevant circumstances if the parties have not agreed on such payments. If the court finds maintenance to be needed in a given case, the law provides a formula to be used in calculating the amount and duration of the award for most couples.
A divorcing couple with minor children must make provisions regarding their children. What used to be known as child custody in Illinois is now called the allocation of parental responsibilities. The law encourages divorcing parents to reach an agreement regarding important decision-making for the child and parenting time for each parent. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, they will be ordered to attend mediation. Should mediation fail to produce a resolution, the court will issue an order regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time based on what it finds to be in the best interests of the children.
Child support orders are also calculated by the court. Such orders take the income of both parents into account along with other applicable factors so that each parent is responsible for a reasonable share of his or her child’s support.
More Detailed Questions?
In any divorce situation, there are bound to be issues that arise and complicate the proceedings. If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney for help. Call The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates at 630-232-9700 to get the answers you need to whatever questions you may have.