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Wheaton, IL 60189
Wheaton Family Law Attorney
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Wheaton divorce attorneysIf you and your spouse are considering divorce, you may have questions about how your living situation will influence the divorce timeline. COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. In fact, for many spouses contemplating divorce, moving to a new home is simply not a possibility right now. You may have wondered, “Can I get divorced if my spouse and I are still living together?” Illinois divorce requirements have changed significantly over the past several years, so it is important to understand these requirements if you plan on ending your marriage.

Mandatory Separation Period for Illinois Divorces

Considerable changes were made to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act in 2016. Included in these changes was an overhaul of the “grounds” or reasons for divorce. Prior to the 2016 update, couples could assert “fault-based” grounds such as adultery or mental cruelty or the no-fault grounds of “irreconcilable differences.” To use irreconcilable differences as the reason for the divorce, the couple was required to live separately for up to two years, but not less than six months. If the couple alleged fault-based grounds, the mandatory separation period was six months.

Illinois is now a pure “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce. Divorces are granted when irreconcilable differences lead to the irreparable breakdown of the marriage. The mandatory separation period before divorce has been eliminated. However, if the spouses do not agree on the divorce, living apart for at least six months may be used as “irrebuttable proof” that the marriage has broken down.

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Wheaton child support attorneyIf you are a parent who relies on child support payments to cover the costs associated with your children’s housing, school and extracurricular activities, and child care, you know just how important this financial assistance is. When a paying parent or “obligor” fails to make child support payments in full and on time, this can lead to significant financial hardship. In many cases, child support non-payment is due to unemployment or underemployment. Read on to learn about how a parent’s employment status may influence the amount of child support they are required to pay.

Is the Obligor’s Employment Status Involuntary?

Illinois child support orders are calculated via the “Income Shares” model. The main factor in determining the amount of parents’ child support obligations is the net income each parent earns. If your child’s other parent is not working, working only part time, or earns a very low income, you may wonder how this will affect your child support order. 

To answer this question, the court must first determine whether a parent’s unemployment or underemployment is voluntary or involuntary. Involuntary unemployment or underemployment may qualify a parent for a lowered child support obligation. For example, if a parent has been laid off from their job due to no fault of their own, the amount they pay in child support may be reduced accordingly, although the court will likely require the parent to seek employment that will allow them to contribute toward their children’s needs. However, if a parent has quit his or her job, chooses to work limited hours, or lost his or her job but makes little effort to find gainful employment, this situation will likely be treated differently under Illinois law.  

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DuPage County property division attorney for home ownershipWhile the emotional implications of divorce can certainly be difficult to contend with, the logistical and financial consequences of divorce are often just as taxing. If you and your spouse have recently split up, you are probably looking for a new place to stay. Many people choose to rent an apartment or stay with family or friends while their divorce is pending, but others choose to actually purchase a home. If you would prefer to buy rather than rent, you may be wondering how the decision to purchase a new home will affect your divorce. Before making any major financial decisions during your divorce, It is crucial to understand how Illinois law affects the division of assets.  

Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets

Before we can discuss the consequences of buying a home while going through a divorce, it is important to understand how Illinois courts divide marital property. Illinois is an equitable distribution state. Courts divided marital property equitably, or fairly, based on several factors, including the spouses’ employment and financial circumstances, their future earning capacity, the standard of living established during the marriage, and more. Unlike in community property states, it is possible that one spouse may receive a greater share of the marital estate than the other during an Illinois divorce. 

Marital assets include any property or debts accumulated by either spouse during the course of the marriage. If you buy a home while you are still legally married and before a legal separation, the home will likely be considered marital property, and therefore, the value of the home will be subject to division during divorce. This is true even if the home is only titled in your name.

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Wheaton child custody attorney for parental alienationIdeally, unmarried and divorcing parents would place their children’s well-being above their own angry or vengeful feelings toward their ex. Unfortunately, the pain of a divorce or breakup can sometimes make parents lose sight of what is really important. Some parents even attempt to influence or coach their children to dislike the other parent. Whether this influence is intentional or unintentional, the results can be extremely harmful to both the children and the other parent. “Parental alienation” occurs when a parent manipulates a child in such a way that the child begins to feel fearful or hostile toward the other parent. It is possible that parental alienation can have a substantial effect on child custody.

What Actions May Be Considered Parental Alienation?

Romantic partners or spouses who have ended their relationship will often harbor some degree of bitterness or spite. However, it is important for parents to avoid letting their feelings toward their ex influence the relationship between their ex and their shared children. If a parent disparages the other parent to the point that it begins to break down the relationship between the child and the other parent, this may be considered parental alienation. Parental alienation may involve:

  • Refusing to inform the other parent about the child’s school or extracurricular activities

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DuPage County spousal support lawyerIllinois courts award spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support) when a divorcing spouse requires monetary assistance based on his or her financial and employment circumstances. There are many different factors that determine whether a spouse receives support and the amount of support he or she is entitled to. If a couple has signed a valid marital agreement dictating the terms of spousal maintenance, Illinois courts will typically uphold the terms contained in the agreement. Otherwise, if a spouse wishes to receive spousal maintenance, he or she must petition the court and explain his or her need for support.  

Alimony May Be Temporary, Fixed, Reviewable, or Indefinite

The type, amount, and duration of spousal maintenance is based on the needs of the spouse seeking support, the financial resources of both spouses, and the amount of time the couple was married. There are four main categories of spousal maintenance in Illinois:

  • Temporary maintenance: Temporary maintenance is awarded to a spouse when he or she needs financial support during the divorce proceedings. An order for temporary maintenance terminates when the divorce is finalized. Spouses requiring this type of support can include a petition for temporary maintenance when they file for divorce, or they can submit a petition for temporary relief after the initial filing.

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