The decision to end a marriage is one of the toughest decisions that you may ever make. There are many things that you may need to consider when filing for divorce including the well-being of children, potential spousal maintenance, living arrangements, division of assets and liabilities, and more. You have options and it is important to understand those options.
Divorces in Illinois are no-fault divorces, meaning the state does not lay blame on you or your spouse. However, certain actions of you or your spouse during the marriage can affect the final divorce decree that is entered in the courts. In some cases, the parties may already be in agreement regarding the divorce but need help understanding the process or what to do next. If this sounds like you, you might benefit from limited scope representation, which could save you a significant amount of money when compared to other divorce cases. For shorter marriages with fewer assets, the parties may be able to seek a joint simplified dissolution of marriage. Regardless of how contested or uncontested your case may be, if you live in Will County or the surrounding areas our family law firm could help assist you in exploring your options and rights when filing for divorce.
“Child custody” is often misunderstood. In fact, Illinois law no longer uses the term “custody” because it was so often misunderstood and lead to many unnecessary court battles. Traditionally, “custody” was used to identify the party who made the major decisions concerning the children. Custody neither decided a superiority of one parent over the other, nor did it decide who paid child support. Now, instead of arguing over a misunderstood term, Illinois allocates parental responsibilities and parenting time.
Parental responsibilities include four, and only four, major decisions: (1) Religion, (2) Education, (3) Health Care, and (4) Extracurricular activities. Courts cannot and do not get involved in “minor” issues such as whether your child eats breakfast. This is because we do not want our courts to micromanage our lives. The parties can make all decisions jointly or some decisions jointly. For example, if mom is a doctor and dad is a teacher, the parties can agree to decide religion and extracurriculars jointly and allow mom to decide all medical issues and allow dad to make all educational decisions. After allocation of responsibilities is determined, the parties must agree on a parenting schedule during the school year and during holidays. If the parties cannot agree, the court will consider a variety of statutory factors before rendering a decision that the parties may or may not like.
Child support is completely different from “child custody” or allocation. The courts are guided by statutory formulas, but each situation is different. You should speak with one of our family law attorneys to better understand your rights and responsibilities.
Maintenance (sometimes called “alimony”) is payment by one former spouse to another former spouse for a length of time determined by the court. There are several factors to consider before maintenance is awarded. If you are concerned about your obligation to pay maintenance, rights to receive maintenance, delinquent payments, or finances have changed, you should speak with an experienced Will County family law attorney to help navigate the issues.