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Divorce Law in Plain English

You no longer have to prove fault to get a divorce

As of January 1, 2016, Illinois removed all ten of its “fault” grounds for divorce, leaving its eleventh ground – Irreconcilable Differences – as its only remaining ground.

To get divorced now, one must merely allege and prove that irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. If both spouses agree to the divorce, they no longer need to be separated to use this ground. One party must merely come to court and testify that irreconcilable differences have caused the breakdown of the marriage.

If the non-moving spouse does not want the divorce, then the parties must be separated for six months prior to the entry of the final papers. A six month separation establishes an irrebuttable presumption that irreconcilable differences have occurred, and the divorce will be granted even if the non-moving spouse still does not want the divorce.

The Illinois law that governs divorce is known as the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.(“IMDMA”). This law has just undergone a major overhaul, which will be effective January 1, 2016. Senate Bill 57, which amends IMDMA, has been signed into law by the governor, and is now official.

One of the major changes in the law is the elimination of at-fault divorce. Up until now, for the most part, the spouse seeking a divorce had to come to court and prove that the other spouse was at fault by virtue of that spouse committing one of Illinois’ grounds for divorce.

The new law removes all references to fault grounds, and requires only a showing of irreconcilable differences. If the parties are separated for six months, the court will presume that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and will grant the divorce (even if one party does not want it to happen). If the parties agree to a divorce, a separation period is not required at all.
A ground for divorce is the legal reason that gives the court its power to dissolve a marriage. In injury law, the court gets its power to award damages only when an injury is proven. In contract law, the court gets the power to act once a beach of the contract is proven. In criminal law, the court gets its power to punish when a crime is proven. In divorce, the legal reason that gives the court the power to end the marriage has just become easier and simpler. You no longer have to say anything bad about your spouse.

Continuing in its effort to keep up with societal changes (and with the rest of the country), Senate Bill 57 also changed our laws pertaining to custody and parental relocation.

Under the current system, parents may be awarded sole or joint legal custody, and the non-residential parent is awarded visitation. Under the new law, there is no longer any mention of custody, joint custody, or visitation. Parents are simply awarded parenting time, and parental responsibilities are allocated between the ex-spouses.

Under current Illinois law, a residential ex-spouse may move anywhere within the state without permission from the court. Permission is needed if that person seeks to relocate the children to another state (even if it is only one or two miles over the Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, or Wisconsin borders). Under our new law, the residential ex-spouse may only move up to 25 miles from his or her current residence without leave of court, and it is OK to leave Illinois with the children as long as the move is less than 25 miles. Parents in counties other than Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will may move up to 50 miles from their current residence without leave of court.

Earlier in 2015, Illinois changed its alimony (spousal maintenance) laws dramatically, and is expected to overhaul its child support laws in 2017. Stay tuned.

dupage-divorce1newWhat are Divorce Papers and what Do they look Like?

“Divorce Papers” is a term that is commonly used for the court pleading that starts a divorce case. The proper name is Petition for Dissolution of Marriage … [Read more…]

What Does the Spouse that is Served with the Papers have to Do?

Answer: He or she must file their Appearance and Response with the clerk of the court within 30 days or the party that filed for divorce can ask the court to enter a default order. If this happens, the court will conduct a hearing and decide the case without them.

What County must I File in?

Answer: You may file your divorce in the county in which either you or your spouse is residing at the time of the filing.

What are Contested and Uncontested Divorces?

Answer: A case is contested if the parties cannot agree on every one of the issues involved in their particular situation. Common areas of disagreement include, but are not limited to, the following: grounds, custody, visitation, division of assets, child support, maintenance (alimony), payment of family debts, contribution toward educational expenses (college or parochial), payment of health insurance for the … [Read more…]

How Much will my Divorce Cost and how Long will it Take?

These questions must be answered together because it is the facts of a particular case, and its happenings, that ultimately determine how long it will take and how costly it will be. Except in very rare instances, it is very difficult for an attorney to be exact when he or she provides a fee quote at the beginning of a divorce case. The initial office conference can only give the attorney a general idea of how much … [Read more…]

Learn about our Set, Flat-Fee for Uncontested Divorces

Your divorce does not have to be messy or expensive. If you and your spouse believe you can work things out on your own, then our flat fee divorce works like this: Either you or your spouse comes to our office and retains us. We can only represent one of you and this is the only person we should deal with. You tell us what the two of you have agreed upon and we put it in writing in a formal marital … [Read more…]

What Does it Mean when a Divorce is “Agreed”?

Answer: In my frame of reference, this statement can have two different meanings, depending upon the context in which it is used. If it seems to relate to the divorce in general, the speaker is depicting the parting of the ways as mutual and not more painful to one party than to the other. It can be a way of being gracious toward the other party, a way of saving one’s face, or it may be to assure family … [Read more…]

Ante-nuptial / Premarital Agreements

Premarital Agreements are also known as Pre-nuptial and Ante-nuptial Agreements and all three names mean the same thing. They are agreements that are made by prospective spouses before their marriage to determine who gets or gives what (alimony and/or property) if the marriage ends in divorce or separation. They are also extremely effective in protecting the inheritance rights of children … [Read more…]

What to Do After a Breakup: How to Begin the Healing Process

Wondering what to do after a breakup? Whether you are headed for divorce or not, a break up can cause you to have many feelings. It is normal to experience sadness, anger, hurt, grief and more. And even though it is okay to feel those things, your goal is to go through the healing process so that you can ultimately feel better.

Here are some tips on how to heal after a break up [Read more…]

Dealing with Divorce

Are you dealing with an impending divorce and all that goes along with it? Change can be hard to deal with for many people, and it seems that separations and divorces are full of change. You may find yourself living in a new place with new belongings and a new routine, which is basically, a whole new life, all in one fell swoop.

If you are having a hard time coping with all of the change that is surrounding you, here are some tips [Read more…]

Divorce Advice: Create a New Social Circle

Dealing with Divorce can really take a toll on your social life. One thing many people may find after a divorce is that they lack a social circle. Some people get so caught up in their spouse that they lose contact with any friends they had before their marriage, while other people find that they shared “couple friends” with their spouse. It may be uncomfortable and awkward to [Read More…]

Divorce Advice: Communicate Better

If you’ve already filed for divorce and had your initial divorce consultation, you realize that divorce can result in some very strong emotions. However, it’s vitally important that you communicate better with your spouse during the process. This article is for those who need to be more direct without being too aggressive.

Being direct – also known as being “assertive,” can be hard at first, but it is something that gets easier the more you do it. There are also many benefits to being able to assert your feelings. When you can tell someone how you feel, it makes your communication skills stronger. Good communication is the foundation for all relationships. [Read More…]

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Richard and Kari are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 60 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook, DuPage, and Will counties.

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