In Illinois, two out of every 1,000 people are destined for divorce each year. Although divorce rates in Illinois lag behind the national average, the fact remains that over 10,000 Illinoisans will decide to divorce this year.
The decision to get divorced may be one of the biggest and most difficult decisions you ever make. At Schierer & Ritchie, our experienced and compassionate divorce attorneys will help you work through this challenging time and set you on a path to a fresh start.
Eligibility and Grounds for Divorce in Illinois
In order to file for divorce in Illinois, an individual must have been a resident of the state for at least 90 days. The person filing for divorce may file in the county where either spouse lives.
In the past, divorcing couples in Illinois had to establish fault-based grounds for divorce. These grounds included adultery, felony conviction, abuse and cruelty, alcohol and drug abuse, irreconcilable differences, and more. In 2016, however, Illinois Public Act 99-90 eliminated all fault-based grounds for divorce. Irreconcilable differences are now the only basis for dissolving a marriage in Illinois.
If both spouses agree that they have irreconcilable differences in their marriage, there is no waiting period to enter a divorce decree in Illinois. However, if one spouse contests the divorce, Illinois law requires the couple to live separately and apart for a continuous period of six months or more.
Property Division in Illinois Divorce
Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that property will be divided equally in an Illinois divorce. Instead, Illinois divorce courts will divide marital property equitably, or fairly. Divorcing spouses may determine how to divide their property on their own, but if they can’t reach an agreement, the court will step in to decide on their behalf.
Only marital property will be divided in an Illinois divorce. Marital property consists of property that was acquired during the marriage. Non-marital, or separate property, on the other hand, is excluded from property division. Non-marital property is property that one spouse had before the marriage or received as an inheritance or gift during the marriage. Gifts from one spouse to another during the marriage are considered non-marital property.
Child Custody and Visitation
Making decisions about the children is often one of the most contentious and emotional aspects of a divorce. The state of Illinois defines a child as anyone under the age of 18, or anyone under the age of 19 if still attending high school.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which came into effect in 2016, introduced the concept of “decision-making responsibilities” to divorcing parents. This type of child custody is similar to legal custody in that a parent with decision-making responsibilities is entitled to make major decisions about the child’s upbringing. Examples include making decisions about schooling, medical care, housing, and religion. In most cases, co-parents will be expected to share decision-making responsibilities.
“Parenting time” was also introduced in 2016, replacing what was formerly called custody and visitation. Parenting time addresses how much time the child spends with either parent. Under Illinois law, the child is considered to live with one parent and visit the other, even if the child’s time is split equally between the two parents. The non-residential parent may have an obligation to pay child support to the residential parent.
In order to help maintain a child’s standard of living after two parents divorce, the court will sometimes order the non-residential parent to pay child support to the residential parent. Illinois state guidelines will determine how much child support has to be paid. Calculating child support in Illinois is relatively straightforward. The court orders a child support payment of a percentage of the non-residential parent’s net income, after certain deductions are subtracted. The percentage increases with each additional child.
Judges are permitted to make adjustments to the Illinois child support formula if the amount does not adequately address the child’s needs.
Spousal Support and Alimony
In an Illinois divorce, either spouse may be awarded alimony. Also known as spousal support or maintenance, alimony is a payment from one spouse to the other. The court determines how much alimony to award based on a number of factors, including:
- Each spouse’s relative income and property
- Each spouse’s earning potential
- Each spouse’s financial needs
- Each spouse’s age and medical condition
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living upheld during the marriage
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage (e.g., taking care of children, making contributions to the other spouse’s education or career, etc.)
Alimony can be temporary or permanent. Short-term alimony might be ordered just to get a spouse back on his or her feet after the divorce. Longer-term alimony may be set for a fixed period of time, after which the court will review the order and decide whether to renew, alter, or terminate it. In cases where a spouse is unable to become gainfully employed, alimony might continue permanently.
In divorce mediation, both spouses work together to determine every aspect of their divorce agreement, including the division of property, the determination of child custody and child support, and whether alimony will be paid. This approach is much more collaborative than the typical litigated divorce, which can become quite adversarial. A neutral third party, known as the mediator, helps the spouses stay on track and reach an agreement. Although divorce mediation does not require a divorce lawyer, you can consult a lawyer at any time to ensure that your rights are being upheld and that you are getting the result you want.
Peoria Divorce Attorney
The divorce process can be an extremely difficult and emotional time, but you don’t have to go through it alone. At Schierer & Ritchie, our Peoria divorce lawyers are here to help you through this challenging period in your life.
We take pride in our skill, experience, and compassion, and can guide you through a full range of family law issues. We can help you learn your legal rights, explore your options, and get started building a happy and secure future. We invite you to contact our offices today to set up a free initial consultation.