Each year, around 70,000 couples get married in Illinois and around 30,000 get divorced.
With a 42% chance that things might not work out, it’s important to understand divorce law in Illinois before making your union official.
If you don’t know what to expect or and don’t have a prenuptial agreement in place, you could find yourself without the proper protections if and when a divorce becomes necessary.
Here, the attorneys from Granholm & Gynac have put together five things you should know about divorce law in Illinois.
1. Illinois Is Now “No-Fault”
If you’re looking for a fault to give you more leverage during a divorce, you’ll find that Illinois is now a no-fault state. Since 2016, no one has been able to seek out a divorce for any reason other than irreconcilable differences. Trying to find other grounds for divorce are no longer warranted.
However, you will need to prove to the court that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. In addition, parties must show that an effort was made to reconcile but was not successful – and that future attempts to reconcile would be counterproductive or create further stress for the family, especially children.
This can be hard to quantify but is vital to forming a legal case in the state. Before any divorce is granted, there’s now a need to submit documentation, where there were once other reasons for a divorce. Things have changed and it’s important to be prepared to build the right kind of case.
2. Know the Residency Requirements
While many states require a waiting period before you file, divorce law in Illinois has different standards. You can petition for divorce in the state without a waiting period. The only requirement is for just one of the partners to be legally residing in the state.
There will be a waiting period between when you’re allowed to be fully divorced by the judge if either of you is new to the state. The law requires that one of the spouses must have been in Illinois for 90 days before you can get divorced.
If you’re in a rush to have things processed, you can see if your current or former home state could expedite things. Otherwise, you might be in limbo for the full three more months.
3. Learn the Prerequisites
No matter how quickly you’re looking to get divorced, it’s just not going to happen overnight according to Illinois law. Before being granted a divorce, a couple needs to decide on all aspects of their life together and how it will be divided.
The court encourages couples to settle their affairs and only intervene if a compromise cannot be reached through standard communication or mediation.
As a couple, you’ll need to figure out how all property will be divided. All of the debt that you carry together must be separated and organized so that everyone knows who is responsible for what. Debts can’t be split between divorced couples without some action taken in advance of the divorce.
If there’s a case of spousal maintenance where one spouse is going to financially take care of the other, you need to decide how much you’ll be giving or receiving based on incomes. You also need to decide on a timeframe for how long this maintenance is going to be in place.
If there are children involved in the marriage, you need to have a written document stating an agreed upon parenting plan. There should be responsibilities spelled out and amounts of time assigned to each spouse, even if you’re only documenting that one spouse will have no custody at all. If child support is required, that also needs to be settled before the divorce can be granted.
4. Divide Your Property
Divorce law in Illinois makes every effort in its practices to divide things evenly between partners. They call themselves an “equitable distribution state”, meaning that things are divided in a way that accounts for earnings and care for children, for instance.
While fairness is the aim, it’s not always going to be equal. The property that was obtained during the marriage is up for being divided up via these standards. If there were gifts specifically given to one party, even by the now ex-spouse, those remain in the custody of the receiver.
Inheritance and property that wasn’t considered part of the premarital agreement or that were specifically left in one party’s hands are typically going to be left alone. The rest will be divided based on the needs of each party.
5. Custody and Visitation
If you’re in the state of Illinois, you need to learn the terms specific to the laws of the state. Where many states still use the terms of custody and visitation, those have been replaced in Illinois. In this state, they’re now “parenting responsibilities” and “parenting time”, respectively.
These two concepts require your lawyers to work through the details along with the judge. Each party will make a case for what’s in the best interests of the child or children. Their safety, well-being, physical and mental health are all up for discussion when deciding who the child should live with and how parenting time will be allocated.
After a divorce, any parents involved are going to file a parenting plan. They can do this together or separately, but it must be on file with the court.
While a straightforward percentage system for child support was previously used, divorce law in Illinois now uses an income shares model that takes into consideration the income of both parents in its standard formula. This can be pretty complicated but a competent divorce attorney should be able to steer you in the right direction.
Divorce Law in Illinois Is Similar to Most States
Thankfully, if you’re new to divorce law in Illinois, you’ll find that it’s not much different than most states of its size. There are millions of people who have been divorced in the state and millions more who will be in the future.
If you have more questions about what to expect with your divorce, contact us today. Granholm & Gynac is here to help you navigate the divorce process so that you can move forward in your life.