Understanding the Divorce Laws of Illinois
Are you considering filing for divorce in Illinois? If you are, you are not alone. Current divorce statistics suggest over 50% of today’s marriages will end in divorce. Regardless of whether or not the idea of divorce fills you with a sense of a relief or dread, it is important to understand the long-term ramifications a divorce can have on you and your family.
Divorce laws in Illinois vary from other states, and they can be complicated. Whether you have divorce questions about child custody, child support payments, alimony or property distribution, it is important to contact an Illinois divorce lawyer for divorce help.
Hiring an Illinois Divorce Lawyer
Divorce lawyers in Illinois help thousands of Illinois state residents each year. Illinois divorce lawyers understand that Illinois divorce is complicated and stressful. If you have children or property, it is imperative that you contact a divorce attorney in Illinois today. Do not wait until you are in court to realize you did not fully prepare for your Illinois divorce. Illinois divorce lawyers will review the facts of your divorce and make sure you make good divorce choices.
Children and Divorce in Illinois
Courts in Illinois will develop child custody arrangements which they believe are in the best interest of the child. The courts hope parents can agree on a parenting plan and submit their own plan for the court to review, but if they can not, the Illinois court will make the decision for them. Social workers may be asked to conduct a home study or both the parents and child may need to meet with a psychologist to provide information which may assist the court. Prior to determining a child custody arrangement the court will review the following factors:
- The parent’s child custody preference
- The child’s custody preference
- The relationship the child has with the siblings, parents and other household residents
- The ability of the child to adjust to school, community and home
- The health of the parents
- The health of the child
- The ability of each parent to encourage a loving relationship with the other parent
- Any factors which may endanger the child including a history of domestic or sexual violence by either parent
Illinois Child Support
Child support laws are outlined in Illinois statutes. Child support payments are calculated based on a certain percentage of the spouse’s net income and the number of children. Under certain conditions the court may deviate from the outlined Illinois child support guidelines, but there must be a written explanation for all deviations. Illinois courts will evaluate a variety of factors before determining the child support payment amount including:
- The financial resources of the child
- The financial resources of the custodial parent
- The standard of living in which the child is accustomed and which would have continued if the marriage had not ended
- The emotional and physical needs of the child
- The child’s educational needs
- The financial resources of the non-custodial parent
Illinois’ Department of Health and Family Services helps parents gather child support payments from the non-custodial parents. They can also help with other services including enforcing payment and establishing paternity. If you are the custodial parent and have been left with the responsibility of caring for a child without adequate financial support from the non-custodial parent, contact the Illinois’ Department of Health and Family Services or a Illinois family lawyer for more information about enforcing child support payments.
Parents who refuse to pay their child support payments may have their income tax refunds intercepted, assets seized, passport denied or license suspended. Actions will not be taken without first notifying the non-custodial parent, but it is important to realize that in the state of Illinois a parent is responsible for caring for their children.
Illinois Divorce Laws
Dissolution of marriage in the state of Illinois is the legal act for ending the marriage through an Illinois court action. All states have specific grounds for dissolution of marriage. Regardless of the grounds for a divorce, you must be able to substantiate your claim in divorce court.
Divorce grounds in Illinois include no-fault and fault. Illinois spouses may file divorce on no-fault grounds for the following reasons:
- The spouses have lived apart and separate for at least 2 continuous years, and there are irreconcilable differences which have caused their marriage to be “irretrievably broken”. If both spouses agree to waive the 2 year requirement, it can be waived through written stipulation in court.
Illinois couples may also divorce on the grounds of “fault” which includes:
- Habitual drunkenness for at least 2 years
- Drug addiction for at least 2 years
- A spouse was already previously married and the husband or wife is currently living.
- Willful desertion
- Repeated and extreme mental cruelty
- Repeated and extreme physical cruelty
- Infliction of a sexually transmitted disease
Legal Separation in Illinois
Legal separation, although available in Illinois, is not frequently done. Filing for legal separation requires legal papers to be completed and filed in court. Legal separations allows each party to appear in court before a judge and have orders issued which will outlined alimony and child support payments and distribute property. The main difference between a legal separation in Illinois and a divorce is that the couple is still married. Legal separations may be converted to an Illinois divorce at any time.
Illinois Divorce Residency Requirements
All states have a residency requirement for filing for divorce. In the state of Illinois a court may enter a judgment for dissolution of marriage if one spouse was a resident of the state for at least 90 days prior to filing for divorce. The divorce should be filed in the county where either the petitioner or the defendant lives. More detailed residency information can be found in Illinois Compiled Statutes 750, Chapter 5 – Sections: 104 and 401.
Illinois divorce residency requirements can be complicated. Contact an Illinois divorce lawyer if you have questions.
Alimony in Illinois
Illinois courts may award alimony payments to either party, but neither party is entitled to Illinois alimony. Alimony may be awarded either permanently or temporarily. The court will not consider marital misconduct when calculating alimony. Factors which will be considered include:
- The financial needs of each spouse
- The income of each spouse
- Marital property which has been distributed to each spouse
- The current and future earning capacity of each spouse
- The amount of time either spouse devoted to domestic duties or sacrificed their present or future earning ability by delaying education, training, employment or other career opportunities
- The amount of time the requesting spouse will need to get adequate training and education to acquire employment
- Whether or not the requesting spouse is the custodian of a child and these duties make it inappropriate or difficult to seek employment
- The standard of living each spouse was accustomed to while married
- The mental and physical condition of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- The tax consequences of property distribution
- Any valid agreement of the parities
- Any contributions which were made by one party to the other for education, career development or training
- All other relevant factors
Annulment in Illinois
An Annulment or a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage is allowed under Illinois law. Under annulment laws once the court has given you and your spouse an annulment it is like your marriage never existed. Annulments can be requested for a few reasons and must be done within a specified time period. Illinois marriages may be claimed invalid for the following reasons:
- The marriage was made with coercion or under duress. This must be done within 90 days of learning of the condition.
- Mental incapacity of one of the individuals. This must be done within 90 days of learning of the condition.
- The marriage was made under “fraudulent grounds” which refers to “the essentials of marriage”. This must be done within 90 days of learning of the condition.
- One of the parties is physically incapable of consummating the marriage. An annulment under these grounds can be made up to 1 year.
- One of the parties was under-aged and did not have the consent of their parents. An annulment under these grounds can be made before the minor turns 18 years old.
- The marriage is made between close blood relatives.