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There are a variety of initial divorce documents which you must prepare to initiate an Illinois divorce.  A Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage outlines all of the broad details of your divorce; you were married, had some children, own some marital property and now you want a divorce, a parenting schedule and a division of that marital property.  Attached to the Petition For Dissolution of Marriage is a document called a summons.  What Is A Summons? In the old days, before everyone could read and write, the summons was the most important part of a lawsuit.  It told…
How is paternity determined in Illinois? While it may be obvious as to who is the mother of a child (the woman who gave birth to that child) it is not 100% certain who is the father of a child. Our society has decided it is not necessary for every child to undergo a DNA test to determine who is the father.  Instead, in Illinois, we just declare the husband of the woman who gave birth to the child to be the father (unless he disputes). But, 40% of women in Cook County, Illinois have a child without being married at…
Thinking about divorce is common.  Every married person has thought about divorce. Most married people have researched divorce (and stumbled on sites like this). But when it comes to filing for divorce, people are hesitant.  Even if a person is ready to file for divorce, when is the best time to file for divorce?  In Illinois, there are a few timing considerations when deciding when to file for a divorce. Does It Matter Who Files First In An Illinois Divorce? There is no grand strategic advantage to filing for divorce before the other person files. The person who files first…
Child support in Illinois is determined by the two parents’ incomes.  The two incomes go into a formula which “reflects the percentage of combined net income that parents living in the same household in this State ordinarily spend on their child.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)(1) This formula is called the “child support guidelines.” Unless the “court makes a finding that application of the guidelines would be inappropriate” 750 ILCS 505(a)2), one parent will be paying the other parent guidelines support. Child support in Illinois is then determined as follows: “Computation of basic child support obligation. The court shall compute the basic…
Most people’s exposure to the legal system is usually in the form of crime movies where the alleged criminal says “I plead the fifth” in order to avoid testifying to something.  The movie judge, inevitably, shrugs their shoulders and the alleged criminal doesn’t have to testify.  Does this happen in real life? Specifically, can you “Plead the Fifth” during an Illinois divorce case? What Is “Pleading the Fifth” or “Taking the Fifth” The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution has a clause which reads, “No person… shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against…
A marriage is when society recognizes the emotional bond a couple has and imbues mutual obligations on the couple so that they might better function as a unit.  Divorce is the dissolution of those mutual obligations…but there’s usually still leftover obligations like child support, division of debts and assets, etc. Marriage is entered into based on emotion (usually) and divorce is often the same.  Because of the emotional causes of divorce, divorces are often abandoned and then restarted.  Because of outstanding issues and abandoned divorces, it often becomes necessary to reopen a divorce case in Illinois.  Reopening A Divorce…
One of the worst parts about divorce is the anxiety of the unknown. What will happen to my kids in my divorce? What will happen to my money after a divorce? What can I do now to protect myself when the divorce is filed?  It is overwhelming but there are, in fact, several things you can do to prepare for a divorce in Illinois. Set Goals For Your Illinois Divorce The divorce process is what drives people’s anxiety.  The result of your divorce should be the focus for you from the very beginning. The end result of your divorce will…
Illinois divorce and family courts have a lot of power…in Illinois.  Once a parent or child is outside of Illinois, it becomes much more difficult for an Illinois domestic relations court to enforce their orders. If the children leave the United States, enforcing parenting time and decision-making issues becomes near impossible. Because of this, the issue of who holds the children’s passports after an Illinois divorce becomes extremely important. What Is A Passport? A passport is a travel document that identifies the passport holder as being eligible to enter into their own country.  So, the primary purpose of a…
Every divorce or custody order typically includes a line saying “pursuant to this state’s laws.”  People don’t live in one state, forever, though. So, what happens when a party to a divorce or custody action moves and they need to enforce the terms of their divorce or custody agreement in Illinois? Does that party have to re-open their case back in the original state or can the whole case move to Illinois? It is impractical for parties to always return to the state that granted their divorce or determined custody of the children if one party lives in Illinois and…
When two parents decide to no longer continue their relationship with each other they still must maintain a relationship with the children. When one parent’s relationship with his or her child is harmed by the other parent the term “parental alienation” is often invoked by psychiatrists and family law attorneys.  What is parental alienation in Illinois? What Is Parental Alienation? Parental alienation syndrome is a term coined in 1985 to describe a distinctive suite of behaviors in children that includes showing extreme but unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent. Illinois courts do not like to lean on the…
Divorce isn’t just the ending of a marriage, divorces can also be a new beginning.  New relationships will blossom and then strengthen. If a divorced person has children, this means that there will be a stepparent situation that everyone will have to embrace and/or deal with. So, how are stepparents treated in a divorce? What Is A Stepparent Under Illinois Law? The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines the term “stepparent” explicitly. “”Step-parent” means a person married to a child’s parent, including a person married to the child’s parent immediately prior to the parent’s death.” 750 ILCS 5/600(l)…
Divorce is about unwinding two people’s professional and personal relationship. Each party to the divorce keeps certain assets and is assigned responsibility for certain debts. But some things are either both an asset and a debt or kind of neither, like a timeshare.  So, what happens to a timeshare in an Illinois divorce? What Is A Timeshare? A timeshare is the partial ownership of a property (or group of properties) where the division of the value of the timeshare is divided amongst the various owners by their right to occupy that property.  Usually each owner is allotted a…
Divorce is financially stressful.  Two incomes used to support one household before the divorce.  After the divorce, one income often supports two households. On top of those household expenses are the divorce attorneys’ fees.  Often the only way to pay these expenses is to get a second job or overtime hours. But, how does a second job or overtime affect an Illinois divorce? Second Jobs and Overtime During an Illinois Divorce If you have children and are getting a divorce, child support will be ordered at some stage during the divorce process. “[T]he court may order either or…
A Judgment For Dissolution Of Marriage is the final written document at the end of the divorce process. A married couple in Illinois remains married until the final Judgment For Dissolution Of Marriage is entered by an Illinois court with the words “the bonds of matrimony existing between Petitioner and Respondent are hereby dissolved.” What Is A Judgment In An Illinois Divorce A judgment is “the official and authentic decision of a court of justice upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action or suit therein litigated” Black’s Law Dictionary 970 (10th ed. 2014) In Illinois,…
Nesting” is the idea that, after a separation or a divorce, instead of the kids going between Mom and Dad’s house, the Mom and Dad alternately go to the house where the kids stay all of the time. Is nesting allowed in an Illinois divorce? Is nesting even recommended in an Illinois divorce.  Why Do People Consider Nesting During And After Divorce?  Divorce is a big change. People are afraid of change. So, nesting is often seen as a way to retain some of the old normalcy for the sake of the children.  This way children keep…
An appearance is “[t]he formal proceeding by which a defendant submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court.” Black’s Law Dictionary (11th Edition).  So, what is an appearance in an Illinois divorce case and how can that appearance affect an Illinois divorce? The Summons attached to a Petition For Dissolution Of Marriage is the notice to the defendant in a divorce case that “this divorce is officially happening.” “Every defendant who is served with summons shall answer or otherwise appear on or before the return day of the summons” 735 ILCS 5/18-106 Cook County’s appearance form can be found here.…