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 …
What is the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce?
When a marriage breaks down, and a couple decides to get divorced, they are likely to experience some emotional trauma, and their distress will only be compounded by uncertainty over the cost and procedures of legally dissolving their marital union. Fortunately, some anxiety can be avoided by informing oneself about divorce laws in Illinois. One thing divorcing spouses should be aware of is the difference between contested and uncontested divorce.
Understanding Contested Divorce in Illinois
In Illinois, the only grounds for divorce (that is, the legal requirement for ending a marriage) recognized by state law are “irreconcilable differences.” Rather than demonstrating a reason why the marriage should be dissolved, a person only needs to state in their divorce petition that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. If the couple does not agree that this is the case, irreconcilable differences will be presumed if they have lived “separate and apart” for at least six months.
Rather than describing a disagreement about the reasons for a divorce itself, a contested divorce occurs in Illinois when a couple disagrees about the legal issues that they must resolve as they go about dissolving their partnership. If a divorce is truly uncontested, and the …
Obtaining a Child Support Order Modification in Illinois
While child support payments become stable and predictable when parents’ employment circumstances remain constant over time, instability and stress can ensue when there is an unexpected decrease in income. This is true for both the parent paying child support and, when payments fall short or cease altogether, for the parent and child receiving support. When people’s circumstances change, Illinois law allows parents to request a modification of a child support order to increase or decrease the amount of child support payments.
Either Parent Can Request Child Support Modification
Life happens. On the positive side, there are promotions and pay increases. On the negative side, there are layoffs, demotions, pay decreases, and job termination. Whether positive or negative, a meaningful change in the income source of child support payments bears on the support itself. When a paying parent’s income increases or decreases significantly, either parent may petition the court to modify child support payments accordingly.
Importantly, child support payments cannot be modified informally, out of court. Only a judge is capable of entering a binding modification, and these modifications must be based on the supporting parent’s ability to make their required payments. This bright-line reality may be maddening for a child …
Illinois Soon Entering Its Third Year as a “No-Fault” Divorce State
In January 2018, Illinois will begin its third year of “no-fault” divorce under state law. When spouses are considering divorce, it is important to understand this philosophical and legal principle that governs divorce in the state.
Irreconcilable Differences Are All That Is Required in a No-Fault Framework
On January 1, 2016, “irreconcilable differences” became the sole legal grounds for the dissolution of a marriage in Illinois. While irreconcilable differences could be considered possible grounds for divorce prior to 2016, they were not the sole grounds. For many years, fault-based grounds (e.g. adultery or mental cruelty) were considered relevant as well. However, this is no longer the case. Under current state law, irreconcilable differences, which speak to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage – the point at which present or future attempts at reconciliation become impracticable and inconsistent with the best interests of the family – is all that needs to exist for a marriage to be properly dissolved in the state of Illinois.
Agreement on Irreconcilable Differences Hastens a Divorce Decree
While both spouses do not need to agree that irreconcilable differences exist for a divorce to be obtained in Illinois, agreement allows for the pre-divorce decree waiting period imposed …