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Frequently Asked Questions About Chicago Divorce

For many families, divorce is a time of grief, stress, and chaos. Often, divorce also brings out other issues such as allocation of parental responsibilities, maintenance, child support, and property division. During such an emotionally charged time, you may have questions about everything from financial issues to parental arrangements.

Here are answers to some of the critical questions you may have:

Do I need grounds to file for divorce?

How is the division of property determined?

How is child allocation determined in Illinois?

How much child support will I receive?

Do I need an attorney?

Q: Do I need grounds to file for divorce?

A: No. As of January 1, 2016, Illinois is purely a no-fault state. Previously, Illinois was a no-fault state, but also maintained traditional grounds for divorce in it statutes for procedural reasons. In a no-fault divorce, there is no requirement to prove misconduct; rather, the court must merely find that there are irreconcilable differences between the parties. This finding is presumed if the parties have been separated for a period of six months or more.

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Q: How is the division of property determined?

A: Ideally, you and your spouse can resolve property issues out of court, either through negotiation with one another, or with the assistance of your attorneys and/or a mediator. If mediation or other attempts at settlement are unsuccessful, the division of property will be determined by a judge through litigation. An Illinois judge will take into consideration several factors, including how long you were married, each spouse's occupation, the value of the property, the effects of any prenuptial agreement, each spouse's opportunity for future acquisition of assets, and who will have physical allocation of the children. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the property is divided on an equitable basis as determined by the judge. The judge may give more weight to one or more of the factors, as he or she sees fit.

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Q: How is child allocation determined in Illinois?

A: The court will consider the best interests of the children while determining allocation, which Illinois now refers to as allocation of parenting time and allocation of parental decision-making responsibilities under the re-writes to the custody statutes as of January 1, 2016. It is common for the court to allocate parental responsibilities to both parties. This does not mean that the children will live equally with both parents, but it does mean that both parents will have authority on major decisions relating to education, religion, medical treatment, and extracurricular activities. This includes deciding where children go to school, which doctor they see, where they go to church, and which sports and activities they engage in. In some cases, the court may allocate parental decision-marking responsibilities to only one of the parents, typically in abusive situations and situations where the parents are unable to cooperate effectively to make decisions together.

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Q: How much child support will I receive?

A: Prior to July 2017, child support was a percentage based only on the net income of the party paying child support. A new law went into effect on July 1, 2017, which eliminates the former percentage model and bases child support on the parents’ combined net income. This approach allocates the amount of child support to be paid by each parent based on the parent’s net income and the child’s physical care arrangements.

Worksheets created by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services provide the basis for calculating child support and a table to show the percentage of the combined net income “the parents living in the same household in this State ordinarily spend on their children.” For example, if based on the combined income of the parents, $50,000 annually is spent on the children, and if the father has 60% of the combined income and the mother 40%, and if the father is to pay child support, he would pay 60% of the $50,000, which is $30,000 annually.

Under the new law, income is calculated in a different manner. The new statute specifically includes spousal maintenance received pursuant to a court order as income for child support purposes. Social Security Disability and retirement benefits are also included in gross income; however, benefits from a means-tested public assistance program are not. After determining each parties’ gross income, the combined net income of the parties must be calculated for child support purposes.

The court can also order a contribution to extracurricular activities, school expenses, and childcare expenses.

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Q: Do I need an attorney?

A: Even if you and your former spouse are on good terms and agree on important issues such as child allocation and property division, it would still be in your best interests to consult with a family law attorney. Whatever agreement that you and your spouse may reach with regard to property division, support, and child-related issues, you will need to make sure that the terms of your agreement are accurately put into a written agreement to present to the court for approval.

The experienced Chicago divorce attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP, can help review your case and guide you through what can become a complex process. We provide quality, compassionate legal support that you and your family deserve during these turbulent times.

Call us at (312) 322-2915 for a comprehensive and confidential consultation.

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Illinois Divorce Attorney Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth herein are based upon the facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee. Please contact an attorney for a consultation on your particular divorce matter. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the state of Illinois.

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