Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce Information

1. What matters are dealt with in a divorce?

When you file for a divorce, the Court will have jurisdiction to enter rulings on several key issues including: parental responsibility (custody), parenting time (visitation), child support, spousal maintenance (alimony) and the equitable distribution of marital property and debts.

2. When can I file for a divorce?

Either you or your spouse must be a resident of Illinois for at least 90 days before you file the divorce action.

3. How long does a divorce take to become final?

Parties must live separate and apart for at least two years before their divorce may be finalized if they choose to proceed using “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce. The two year waiting period can be waived in certain circumstances. Beyond irreconcilable differences, there are 7 other grounds for divorce: mental cruelty, adultery, alienation of affection, physical cruelty, drug addiction/drunkenness, infection with a sexually transmitted disease, and conviction of a felony.

4. What is “Marital property”?

“Marital Property” refers to all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage except that property which is specifically excluded by statute, such as: Property acquired by a spouse through gift or inheritance. Property acquired in exchange for separate property or in exchange for property acquired by a spouse through gift or inheritance. Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation has been entered. Property specifically excluded by a valid pre-nuptial or ante-nuptial agreement. Any Property acquired before the marriage. The increase in value of property acquired by a method listed above.

5. What is maintenance?

A court can order one spouse to pay maintenance (otherwise known as alimony or spousal support) on a temporary or permanent basis. Rehabilitative maintenance can also be awarded. There are many factors that go into determining whether a case would justify an award of maintenance so it is very important to consult with an experienced attorney on this matter. If a party can show that they need maintenance, the amount to be awarded is usually subject to the discretion of the Court.

6. What is custody?

Illinois grants custody in two forms: Joint custody and Sole Custody. Ideally, joint custody will be awarded when both parents are able to effectively communicate and this allows for maximum participation in the lives of their children. This is not easy and often takes dedication and the ability to change with the changing needs as a family. Joint custody does not mean equal parenting time, and often it is beneficial to have an Attorney to present an effective and desirable parenting agreement to the Court.

7. What is Mediation?

IncreasinglyCourts require that the parties submit any unresolved issues to some form of mediation. Mediation is an effective way of reaching an out of court settlement through the involvement of an independent third party as a mediator. This person can make recommendations on what is reasonable and fair as well as how a Court would potentially rule on an issue. Mediation can save thousands of dollars by reaching a settlement without the need for an expensive court hearing.

8. What is a Legal Separation?

Legal Separation is very similar to divorce in the sense that a Court can enter orders on all issues but NOT declare the marriage dissolved. Either party can later move the Court to have a Decree of Legal Separation converted to a Decree of Dissolution. There is no real advantage to a legal separation over a divorce other than some people prefer to legally separate for religious reasons or simply want time to give a spouse time to work on the marriage. Keep in mind that a physical separation is NOT the same thing as a Legal Separation.