The Rights of a Stay-At-Home Parent in an Illinois Divorce
Divorce can bring unique stress and uncertainty for people who have chosen to assume the valuable role of stay-at-home parent. If you are such a person, you know all too well the worrisome thoughts that hover. How am I going to earn money and be there for my children? Can I even start a career now? How is it fair that my ex-spouse is leaving the marriage with their career intact, while I am entering the job market for the first time?
Each of these concerns is both legitimate and commonplace. Fortunately, Illinois state law (which governs divorce, child support, and spousal support) acknowledges and respects the trade-offs and sacrifices in marriages in which one spouse assumes the role of income earner and the other the role of stay-at-home parent.
Equitable Property Division for the Stay-At-Home Parent
Just because one spouse earned the majority of the income during a marriage, that does not mean that he or she is entitled to all or most of the marital property. Illinois recognizes that stay-at-home parenting is in itself a valuable contribution, representing both a benefit to the well-being of children and a sacrifice of career opportunities.
This contribution is not unlike …
Understanding the Terminology Surrounding Divorce in Illinois
Divorce is a state law issue. This is a simple but important distinction to keep in mind when going through divorce in the state of Illinois, as the legal guidelines concerning spousal maintenance and property division may prove different than what you have may have heard about how divorce works under legal frameworks utilized by other states (e.g., California’s “community property” model).
Illinois Uses a Unique and Evolving Set of Terminology in Matters of Divorce
In Illinois, “spousal maintenance” is the official terminology for what is elsewhere referred to as “alimony” or “spousal support.” This somewhat abstracted language pairs with that used by the state with regard to child custody (“allocation of parental responsibility”), asset division (“equitable distribution”), and even the terms concerning the state’s position regarding the issue of fault in the dissolution of a marriage (“irreconcilable differences”).
Maddeningly, the closer you investigate the state’s divorce lexicon, the more circular or abstracted it becomes. “Equitable distribution” does not necessarily translate to “equal,” but rather to “fair and equitable.” “Permanent maintenance” has been reframed as “maintenance for an indefinite term,” though the duration, once determined, may for all practical purposes prove permanent. Divorce is hard enough on former spouses and …
Planning Parent and Child Relocation in Accordance With Illinois Law
When parents divorce, the chain of cause and effect extends far into the future. Where there was once a unit, with each parent a party to mutual decision-making and sacrifice for vocational and educational opportunities, there are now separate, often largely independent spheres. Where one parent occupied an at-home role, both parents may now either need or want to work. Where there was a stable support network of grandparents and other relatives, there may now be more tenuous circumstances.
Changes such as these reflect only a few of the variables in play following divorce – changes that may require or inspire one parent to look outside of the Chicago area or the state of Illinois for employment, educational opportunities (for him or herself or their child), and family support. Importantly, however, a divorced parent cannot just uproot and leave with their child in tow. The parental responsibility arrangement entered in their divorce decree must be honored, and modifications related to child relocation must be sought and obtained using formal processes in compliance with state guidelines.
Defining Relocation Under Illinois Law
Under Illinois law, “relocation” occurs in one of the following three cases:
- If the current primary residence of the child
Enforcement of Divorce and Child Support Orders in Illinois
People may behave irrationally in an acrimonious divorce, willfully disregarding court-mandated child support or spousal support. Reasons may involve wild recriminations or appeals to a misguided sense of justice separate from the judicial system. Make no mistake, though—the law is the law. When an Illinois court enters a divorce decree into court records, it is the last word on the subject, barring a judge’s formal legal modification. When a former spouse refuses to comply with their court-ordered child or spousal support obligations, the power of the law may be used to enforce the divorce decree and impose penalties for non-compliance.
Fault Is Not a Basis for Refusing to Comply with a Divorce Order
If, when refusing to pay court-ordered child support or spousal maintenance, your former spouse attempts to cast blame, remember that Illinois is a “no-fault” state in matters of divorce. The court that has already awarded child or spousal support is of course already fully aware of this fact, so it is doubly beside the point to attempt to evade an order by engaging in informal relitigation.
After the divorce has been finalized, each party has a legal obligation to abide by the terms and conditions of the …
Preparing for the Tax-Related Consequences of Divorce
Just as the legal formalization of a marriage has tax-related consequences, so does its dissolution. If you have recently divorced or are in the process of divorce, it is important that you understand and prepare for the tax-related consequences of the decisions made regarding spousal support, the allocation of parental responsibility, and the division of the marriage’s assets. In the interest of avoiding serious financial hardships, it is imperative that these issues are dealt with as early as possible.
Child Support and Spousal Support Are Primary Tax-Related Issues Following Divorce
Currently, child support payments and spousal support payments are taxed differently. Spousal support (sometimes termed “maintenance” or “alimony”) is tax-deductible for the payor and is classified as taxable income for the recipient, while child support is not tax-deductible for the paying parent or taxable for the receiving parent. In some cases, it possible for divorced spouses to reach what is termed an “unallocated support arrangement” in which child support and spousal support are not differentiated into separated payments. Rather, they are combined into one fully tax-deductible/taxable payment – a beneficial simplification in instances, for example, in which one spouse earns the bulk of the income and the other spouse has …
Obtaining a Divorce in Illinois When Your Spouse Has Left the State
Some divorces hew surprisingly close to the dramatized version often depicted in television, film, and literature. There may be quarreling, recriminations, and accusations, all of which take place at a volume that would not be considered polite in domestic discourse. Other divorces, however, are the quite the opposite. Sometimes, in fact, divorce is a solitary affair. This may sound impossible, or at least paradoxical, until you consider the scenario in which one spouse has deserted the other. In such instances, when a spouse has left the state and refuses to return, or has altogether disappeared without a trace, it is still possible for the other spouse to lawfully obtain a divorce.
Divorce by Publication Is an Option for Deserted Spouses
It may seem too cruel to believe, but sometimes one spouse will leave the other in the lurch. The absence may be willful, planned, and even carefully considered, or the disappearance may be related to issues of addiction or mental health. In addition, a spouse may disappear unexpectedly because of circumstances related to the criminal underworld (e.g., illicit means of debt collection and intimidation).
Whatever the reason for a spouse’s disappearance or unavailability, it is possible for the other spouse …