630-462-9500

After Hour New Client Telephone Number 630-690-6077

1776 S. Naperville Road, Building B, Suite 202,
Wheaton, IL 60189
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

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 property divison attorney for pet custodyWhether you have a dog, cat, horse, bird, or other type of animal, you probably love and cherish your pet as if he or she was part of the family. One concern many divorcing spouses have is who will keep the family pet after their marriage ends. Arguments about “pet custody” can often become heated. One spouse may even try to maintain ownership of the pet simply to spite the other spouse. If you are planning to end your marriage, make sure to educate yourself about how Illinois’ property division laws address pet ownership after divorce.

Pet Custody Laws in Illinois

Although you most likely do not think of your pet as simply another piece of property, pets are treated similarly to other assets during divorce. There are not proceedings for “pet custody” the way there are for child custody. The pet is considered a marital asset if it was acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. If the pet was acquired by a spouse before the marriage, that spouse will typically remain the owner after divorce. However, there are some exceptions to this.

Providing for the Pet’s Well-Being

Fortunately, a new law went into effect in 2018 that differentiates pets from property like vehicles and jewelry. If the pet is a marital asset, the court now considers the well-being of the pet when deciding how to allocate ownership. If one spouse has traditionally been responsible for feeding, exercising, grooming, and caring for the pet’s health needs, the court will be much more likely to award ownership to that spouse. If you wish to maintain ownership of your pet after the divorce, start collecting evidence that proves your involvement in the pet’s life, such as photos, videos, receipts, and veterinary bills. 

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for appealsMost divorcing spouses hope to avoid going to trial. They may attempt to reach an agreement about unresolved divorce issues through their attorneys, with help from a third-party mediator, or through the collaborative law process. Unfortunately, not every couple is able to reach a settlement outside of court. During divorce litigation, a judge hears arguments and evidence from both sides and then issues a judgment. If your divorce judgment did not turn out the way you had hoped, you may wonder what your options are for appealing the court’s decision.

When Should I Seek an Appeal?

Many people assume that they can file an appeal if they disagree with the terms of their divorce judgment. However, successfully appealing a divorce judgment is a complex legal pursuit that is only possible under certain conditions. A person cannot appeal a divorce simply because he or she is unhappy with the outcome of the case. Circuit court decisions, including divorce judgments, may only be appealed if there is a possibility that the decision resulted from errors of law. Examples of situations in which an appeal may be justified include:

  • The judge made his or her decision based on incomplete or false information
  • There was a procedural mistake that influenced the outcome of the case
  • The decision was based on the judge’s incorrect interpretation or application of the law
  • Evidence was used which was inadmissible or insufficient

What Does the Appeals Process Involve?

If there are reasons to warrant an appeal of your divorce judgment, it is important to act quickly. Appeals must be filed with the Illinois appellate court within 30 days of the final judgment. The appealing party must explain the grounds for the appeal and what the alleged mistakes are. The appellate court’s function is to examine what happened during the trial court proceedings and determine whether legal errors occurred. Illinois appeals are heard by three judges. They will evaluate the evidence, hear arguments, and then make their decisions. The judges may uphold the circuit court’s original decision, amend the divorce judgment to correct the mistake, or vacate the judgment and send the case back to the circuit court.

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DuPage County child support and parenting time attorneyThe average cost of raising a child from birth until age 18 is almost $300,000. If you are a single parent, you know just how quickly child-related expenses can add up. Child support is a vital source of financial assistance that many single parents come to depend on. When an obligor parent is not paying his or her court-ordered child support, the recipient parent may wonder what he or she can do to make the other parent pay. In some cases, the parent who is owed child support may decide to withhold visitation, technically called parenting time, from the other parent until he or she becomes current on his or her child support payments. However, withholding visitation can have significant civil and criminal consequences.

Parenting Time and Child Support Are Two Separate Issues Under Illinois Law

Illinois law considers child support and parenting time to be two distinct concerns. A court will not limit a parent’s access to his or her children because he or she falls behind on child support. The only time that a parent should be denied parenting time is if there is proof that allowing court-ordered parenting time would present a danger to the well-being of the child. If your child’s other parent is not paying child support, this does not negate his or her legal right to parenting time. In fact, by withholding your child from the non-paying parent, you may be violating your parenting plan, and you could face serious consequences as a result. You may face fines, the suspension of your driver’s license, probation, mandated parenting classes, and even jail time. Even more importantly, refusing to let your child see the other parent may punish your child more than it punishes the non-paying parent.

How to Enforce an Illinois Child Support Order

If your child’s other parent has stopped making child support payments, you do have several options for enforcing payments. You can file a petition with the court to enforce child support obligations, and different methods may be used to collect the support that is owed, including but not limited to:

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DuPage County divorce attorney

When a person files a petition for divorce, called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Illinois, he or she must serve his or her spouse with the divorce petition. This sometimes involves one spouse simply handing the paperwork to the other spouse or it may be accomplished through a process server or other qualified third party. However, there are some circumstances where serving a spouse a divorce petition may be nearly impossible. When a spouse cannot be located, you will need to take special steps in order to be granted a divorce.

Attempting to Find a Missing Spouse

If you want to file for divorce but you do not know where your spouse is, you may be able to serve notice of the divorce through the newspaper. If the spouse still does not respond, you may be able to obtain a divorce without his or her participation. However, before either of those things happen, you will need to make a genuine effort to locate your spouse. You will also need to list all of the attempts you have made to find your spouse in an affidavit and file it with the court. It is recommended that you take at least the following steps to locate your spouse:

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