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Chicago Family Law Attorneys

Illinois Family Law Overview

Family law is a complex and specialized legal area. The attorney representing you must have in-depth knowledge of all Illinois family law matters. At Nottage and Ward, LLP, it’s all we do. Our Chicago family law attorneys understand that family relationships are among the most important and complex in an individual’s life. Our skilled and responsible legal team works closely with families to find effective and fair legal solutions and treat every case with the appropriate care and attention. When a dispute arises between spouses and/or other family members, the resolution can have a long-lasting impact on the family’s dynamics, as well as the future well-being of its individual members.

Nottage and Ward, LLP has over 30 years of experience handling a wide range of family law issues, such as marriage contracts, paternity, allocation of parental responsibilities agreements, adoption, divorce, and domestic partnership. To schedule a comprehensive case evaluation with a knowledgeable and compassionate family law attorney in Chicago, please contact us online or dial (312) 332-2915. We are here to help.

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"I highly send my recommendation to any person who wants the best representation from one of the most distinguished family law attorneys in Chicago."
- A. C.

Marriage Laws in Illinois

Marriage is a contract between two individuals. To get married in Illinois, you must:

  • Be 18 or older (or at least 16 with proof of consent from both parents);
  • Have received a free health pamphlet from a county clerk containing information about sexually transmitted and inherited metabolic diseases; and
  • Submit an application for a marriage license that includes personal information (name, address, sex, date of birth), information about any previous marriages, name, and address of parents or guardians if applicable, disclosing whether the applicants are related and, if so, what the relationship is.

The State of Illinois requires that an official marriage ceremony be performed by an authorized person. It is not required that you take your spouse’s name when you marry in the state. Since the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States, there are no restrictions for marriage based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Are You Planning Ahead for Your Marriage or Partnership?

Consult with a family law attorney if you would like help settling the difficult questions regarding business and property ownership, childcare, and allocation of parental responsibilities before you marry. If you are in a domestic partnership, you and your partner can prepare for any possible emergencies and protect one another with a domestic partnership agreement. We can provide the information and insight you need to make informed decisions when planning for your future together.

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Are You Considering a Divorce in Chicago?

The divorce process is about much more than simply ending a relationship. There is no one solution for every couple. Whether a couple has been together for a few years or decades, each spouse has invested a significant amount of themselves into the partnership, from assets and finances to children and an intimate history. If you are considering a divorce, the qualified family law attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP can help you focus on the facts and will fight to ensure that your needs are met.

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Illinois Divorce Laws

The residency requirement for divorce in Illinois is 90 days. As of January 1, 2016, the only grounds for divorce is irreconcilable differences. To prove irreconcilable differences, it is necessary to show the court that you have been living separately from your spouse for at least six months. However, if both spouses agree that their differences are irreconcilable, the six-month separation period is not required.

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Do You Need Help Determining Child Care, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities, or Adoption?

Protecting and raising children is a chief concern for many couples. If you are considering a separation or a divorce in Chicago, working with an experienced family lawyer will help you come to an agreement about who will be accountable for childcare and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Many families turn to adoption to complete their family, to protect a partner’s children, or to care for another’s children after a tragedy. If you are seeking solutions to raising your children in a safe and healthy environment, the team at Nottage and Ward, LLP can help you explore the many avenues to keeping your family secure.

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Illinois Family Law Mediation

Before child allocation issues are addressed by a judge in Illinois, mediation is required. Mediation can also be utilized by divorcing couples to resolve issues such as:

  • Division of marital assets and debt
  • Allocation of parental rights, time, and responsibilities
  • Present and future financial agreements

Agreements reached between the spouses in mediation are legally binding. This may be a good option for divorcing spouses who are able to find common ground and control their emotions.

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Illinois Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

In Illinois, child custody is called the allocation of parental responsibilities, and the custodial parent is called the allocated parent. The courts recognize:

Legal custody: This refers to a parent or guardian’s right to make major life decisions for the child, such as schooling or religion.

Physical custody: The parent with physical custody is the parent with whom the child lives.

Joint custody: In Illinois, both parents may have legal and/or physical custody. This arrangement is known as joint custody.

Children ages 14 and older may choose which parent to live with. However, if the judge determines it is not in the child’s best interests, the court may disregard the child’s decision.

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Will You Need Spousal Maintenance or Alimony?

In many cases, when a couple divorces, one spouse may be left with little to no financial assets to support their basic needs. Illinois law permits courts to order temporary, reviewable, or permanent spousal support to help compensate the spouse in need of financial assistance. This support is provided in the form of income and/or property from one spouse to the other. If you believe that spousal maintenance will be a factor in your divorce, consult with a Chicago family law lawyer to build a strong case on your behalf to protect your rights and financial future.

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Spousal Maintenance in Illinois

Spousal maintenance, referred to as alimony in other states, is subject to the Illinois courts’ discretion. They hold the final decision on whether or not a spouse may be awarded it, how much will be awarded, and how long it can be received. In making these determinations, the courts consider a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, maintenance from previous marriages, child support, and the earning capacity, income, property, and needs of each party. However, when determining maintenance, the court will focus on an objective view of the situation and will not consider “marital misconduct” per Illinois Civil Statute 750 § 5/504. When reviewing spousal maintenance, the court will follow these two guidelines:

  • Maintenance may include up to 33.3% of the payor’s gross income minus 25% of the payee’s gross income. When maintenance is added to the payee’s gross income, the total amount may not exceed 40% of the combined gross income of both payor and payee
  • The duration that maintenance may be received is based on how long the spouses were married in years multiplied by a decimal amount listed in the statute. This decimal amount is subject to change based on the length of the marriage. However, if the marriage has lasted for 20 years or more, spousal maintenance may be permanent or equal to the length of the marriage, depending on the court’s decision.

The court’s may also modify maintenance if the payor has difficulty making payments due to obligations to pay maintenance in a previous marriage or child support. When combined, child support payments and maintenance cannot exceed 50% of the payor’s net income and payments may be adjusted by the court.

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Contact a Trusted Chicago Family Law Attorney

The Chicago family law and divorce lawyers at Nottage and Ward, LLP have years of experience handling the complex issues that arise in family legal proceedings and will not back down from a challenge. We stand up for our clients and will fight to ensure that you receive a fair and just resolution to your issue. Do not hesitate to contact us for an initial consultation to discuss whether our representation is right for you. Call us at (312) 332-2915 or submit an online contact form.

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Client Reviews

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