Sunday, May 7, 2017

Divorce Laws in Illinois

Image result for divorce papers

Prior to the court granting a divorce in Illinois, the court will need three issues settled.  It is in your best interest to hire an experienced family law attorney to help you get the best possible outcome in these situations.  Children are of course the court’s priority concern.  Although it is still true that the mother has usually taken on the role of “primary care giver” and will likely continue in that role, it is a myth that the father cannot obtain custody.  Many households today are two income families.  This means that in at least some situations the father’s and mother’s time are equally taken by their jobs.  The question then is who spends the time with the children during the off hours, who makes dinner, who tucks them in, who takes them to school, attends parent/teacher conferences, etc.  If the father has assumed that role then he has a fair chance of seeking and winning custody.  Whichever parent wins custody, unless it can be proven that he or she is a danger through neglect or otherwise to the children, then the other parent has a right to visitation.  A visitation schedule should give the non-custodial parent as much time with the children that minimizes any disruption in their normal activities.  Finally, it is a myth that the father cannot obtain child support.  Whoever the non-custodial parent ends up being will be obligated to pay child support based on the formulas set by Illinois law. 

The second issue to be decided is property settlement.  Illinois law states that all items obtained during the marriage are “marital property” and belong to both spouses equally.  Exceptions to this rule are gifts given by inheritance and any property purchased with funds brought to the marriage.  Many clients assert that houses, vehicles and even retirement plans and life insurance policies purchased or titled in his or her own name are his or her property because the spouse did not contribute to purchasing the property.  Many are disappointed when they are informed that it is not relevant which spouse purchased the property – if it was purchased during the marriage, absent the exceptions listed above, it is presumed to be marital property.  As such the property is subject to a “fair and equitable” split.  Another myth is that since the property is owned equally by the spouses, fair and equitable means a 50/50 split.  Although it can be divided 50/50 oftentimes the court will look to the needs of one of the parties and the ability of the other party to provide that need.  

Maintenance, as the third issue to be determined, is also based on the needs of one party against the ability to pay by the other.  Although maintenance is usually reserved for marriages with longer term duration and is generally subsumed by the property division, courts have found that if a marriage of short-term has special circumstances or there is not enough property to adequately support a dependent spouse either short term or long term maintenance is appropriate.  The amount, type and duration of any maintenance award will vary from case to case depending again, on the specific needs of one individual and the ability of the other individual to meet this need.  

On a final note child custody, support and visitation are issues that can be revisited after a period of time and a substantial change in circumstances.  Property issues and maintenance, once decided or waived, are final judgments and will not be revisited by the courts even if a substantial change in circumstances occurs.  For additional information please visit

While every caution has been taken to provide my readers with the most accurate information and honest analysis, the information on this site is for general information purposes only.