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Cook County Divorce Attorneys

Legal Representation While Getting Divorced in Cook County

Divorce involves the legal dissolution of marriage. There are many reasons why a married couple may choose to divorce, and those reasons are unique to each couple and each marriage. Some common reasons for divorce include: infidelity; financial disputes; domestic violence/abuse; personality clashes; and/or even just falling out of love. Regardless of the reason, however, divorce is sometimes the best decision people can make for the good of themselves and their families. But divorce is very complicated. A person cannot just decide to get a divorce and be done with it. In order to ensure that you can move on and be financially secure in the future, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Cook County divorce lawyer.

Call Nottage and Ward, LLP at (312) 332-2915 to learn more about your legal options during a divorce.

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Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce

The divorce process begins when one spouse files for Dissolution of Marriage. In Illinois, divorce may be filed as a "no-fault" or "at-fault" divorce. If it is an at-fault divorce, then the spouse who filed must prove that his or her spouse is, in fact, "at-fault" for the failure of the marriage in a way recognized by Illinois law. In a no-fault divorce, the filing spouse merely cites "irreconcilable differences." Most divorces in Illinois are no-fault.

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Irreconcilable Differences

Spouses no longer have the option to cite issues that allowed for fault-based divorces in the past, including impotence, addiction, bigamy, adultery, felony convictions, or even an attempt on the other spouse’s life. These grounds, while no longer cited in divorce in Illinois, can significantly impact other factors in the divorce, such as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the law states:

Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and the court determines that efforts at reconciliation have failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.”

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Residency Requirements for Divorce in Illinois

The divorce petition must be filed in the county where one or both spouses live. The state does not impose a waiting period to file a divorce petition – you can file the same day you move to the state. A divorce judgment may be issued after a spouse has resided in the state for 90 days. To prove residency in the state, documents such as a driver’s license, tax return, home leases, and utility bills are acceptable. Only one party is required to be a resident of the state to file a divorce.

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Jurisdiction in an Illinois Divorce

Jurisdiction is the court’s power to hear a divorce and issue a ruling. If you live in Illinois, and your spouse is absent, the court can exercise jurisdiction over a spouse not residing in the state. If one spouse lives in Illinois, whether civilian or military, they have the right to file a no-fault divorce.

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Types of Divorces in Illinois

Uncontested Divorce: When the two spouses can come to an amicable resolution on the critical matters in divorce, an uncontested divorce can be filed, allowing for a faster resolution.

Contested Divorce: When the two marriage partners cannot agree on one or more issues, such as property division, the allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, and parenting time, the court will intervene. The state requires the parties in the divorce to attend mediation as the first step in coming to a resolution. If the mediation is unsuccessful, a judge will hear the case.

Mediation: Mediation is a negotiation between the parties in the divorce, facilitated by a neutral third party who will attempt to achieve an agreement on the issues in contention. Mediation is an ideal approach for couples willing to work out the terms of their divorce outside of court with the assistance of an unbiased, third-party mediator.

Collaborative Divorce: A collaborative divorce involves each spouse retaining a divorce attorney trained in this option. This option involves committing to participate in the collaborative process to come to an agreement on the unresolved issues. This approach can be less costly than a contested divorce, with the negotiations occurring in private rather than open court.

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Property Division in Illinois Divorce

Marital property includes all assets and liabilities incurred during the term of the marriage, including real estate, furniture, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement plan or pension plan funds, and all other assets, including valuable works of art, animals, or jewelry. All assets acquired during the marriage are considered marital property unless the item was inherited, a gift, or excluded in a legally valid prenuptial agreement. Marital property must be split “equitably” rather than evenly, which provides for a range of options in how the final property division is made, whether in mediation, collaborative divorce, or in court.

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Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Parental rights can be among the most contentious issues in a contested divorce. A proposed “Parenting Plan” must be submitted to the court. When the parents disagree on matters concerning the children, they must go to mediation to resolve the issues. They also must attend classes about the impact of divorce on children. If the court must decide as the parents cannot agree, all decisions are based on what is considered in the child’s best interest – not the parents.

Both parents have a responsibility to provide support for their children. The court uses a formula for child support. Every family and child has unique needs and activities, or a child may have a medical condition that requires specialized attention. While child support can be modified due to a significant change in circumstances, such as changes in employment and income increases or decreases, one factor holds at all times – child support must be paid promptly, or enforcement actions can be initiated.

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Cook County Divorce Lawyers Dedicated to Protecting Your Future

At Nottage and Ward, LLP, our experienced Cook County divorce attorneys have the knowledge, skills, and resources to obtain a divorce settlement that is best for you and your family. Whether we are working with both spouses in an amicable split, dealing with the additional complications of bankruptcy, or a heated courtroom battle between you and your ex, we will work professionally and diligently for your family’s best interests. If you are considering divorce in Illinois, contact us for a consultation on your legal rights and options at (312) 332-2915.

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Additional Information

Cook County Divorce Resource Center

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Five Stars5 Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for

Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for in a very complicated, emotional matter. She has continuously looked out for my best interest and the best interest of my son. She is always prompt in getting back to me and in keeping me well informed about my case.

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Avvo Top Contributor Family Law - Jeffrey Knipmeyer
Avvo Top Contributor Divorce Law - Jeffrey Knipmeyer