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Wheaton family law attorney for divorce petitionsMarriages end for innumerable reasons. Sometimes, one spouse wants the divorce, while the other spouse believes that the marriage is salvageable. Other times, the spouses both agree that it is time to call it quits. Whatever your situation, you may have questions about the divorce process and how to get started. One particular question you may be asking yourself is, “Does it matter which spouse files for divorce?”

The Basics of Filing for Divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, a divorce is called a Dissolution of Marriage. The spouse who files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is the petitioner, and the other spouse is the respondent. To file for divorce in Illinois, at least one of the spouses must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days prior to filing the petition. 

Illinois is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that the spouses will not be asked to assign blame for the marriage ending. The only grounds for divorce in Illinois is “irreconcilable differences.” When determining the terms of a divorce, Illinois courts do not consider which spouse is the petitioner and which is the respondent. Both spouses are treated equally under the law.

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Wheaton debt division attorneyDid you know that the average amount of personal debt for Americans aged 40-55 is over $135,000? Whether through a home mortgage, personal loans, credit cards, or student loans, most people have at least some debts. If you are planning to get a divorce, you may be wondering how debt will be handled. Typically, marital debt is handled similarly to marital property during an Illinois divorce, but each case is different.  

Illinois Laws Regarding Marital Debt

In many marriages, one spouse is more of a spendthrift than the other. Often, differences in spending habits and financial goals are one of the issues that lead to divorce. If your spouse has accumulated a considerable amount of debt, you may wonder if you will be expected to repay it after divorce. You may also wonder if your spouse will be on the hook for debts that you have acquired.

Illinois courts divide marital property according to a legal doctrine called equitable distribution. Property and debts are divided fairly but not always evenly. Marital property and debts, meaning property and debts obtained during the marriage, are divided between spouses. Non-marital property, which includes assets and debts acquired by a spouse before getting married, is assigned to the spouse who originally acquired it. However, in the majority of cases, the court does not decide the allocation of marital property and debts during divorce. The divorcing couple instead reaches an out-of-court settlement regarding property and debts through negotiation, mediation, or another dispute resolution method.

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DuPage County divorce attorney for children and datingWhether you are planning to get a divorce, or you have already begun the process of ending your marriage, you have probably thought about dating. One of the silver linings of divorce is that the spouses are free to search for new romantic partners who are a better match for them. Getting back into the dating world after being married can be exciting. However, when you are a parent, there are additional issues to consider. One of these issues is when to introduce a new partner to your children. There is no perfect time to introduce a new partner, but there are certain considerations you could keep in mind when dating after divorce.

Wait Until After the Divorce Is Complete

Most experts suggest waiting to date until after your divorce is finalized. However, no one can predict when they will meet the right person. If you already have a new romantic interest, and your divorce is not complete, it may be best to avoid introducing the new partner to your children until the divorce is finalized. 

Divorce can have a major impact on children. Kids whose parents are divorcing may worry that their parents will abandon them or that they will no longer have a family. Children often feel possessive toward their parents, and they may see the new partner as a threat or as something that will negatively impact their family relationships. Introducing a new partner before the divorce is complete can also increase the tension and stress during the divorce process. Your spouse may be offended, and they may act out in revenge and attempt to make the divorce more drawn out and difficult.

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Wheaton divorce attorney for infidelity and asset dissipationCheating and affairs in a marriage often lead to divorce. In some cases, spouses file for divorce immediately after the affair comes to light. In other cases, a couple may try to salvage their marriage after an affair, but they may ultimately decide that too much damage to the relationship has occurred. If you have found yourself in this situation, you may be unsure of what to do. Whether the unfaithful partner was you or your spouse, you probably have questions about how marital infidelity can influence an Illinois divorce. Regardless of the exact circumstances, infidelity can lead to additional contention and confusion in a divorce. An experienced divorce lawyer can help.  

Grounds for Divorce

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. The state’s laws previously included fault-based “grounds” or reasons for divorce, such as abandonment, cruelty, and infidelity. However, Illinois has since eliminated these grounds. Now, the only grounds available when filing for divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” Infidelity or other reasons for ending their marriage will not be included in a spouse’s petition for divorce.

Financial Implications of an Affair

Although there are no longer fault-based grounds for divorce in Illinois, a spouse’s infidelity can still impact the divorce. If a spouse used marital funds or property to finance their affair, the other spouse may file a “dissipation of assets” claim against him or her. According to Illinois case law, dissipation occurs when a spouse uses marital property on a purpose not related to the marriage while the marriage is undergoing an irreversible breakdown. Funds spent on gifts or vacations with an affair partner may be considered dissipated assets. During the divorce process, the spouse who dissipated the assets may be required to reimburse the marital estate for the value of those assets.

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DuPage County high conflict divorce attorneyDivorce can bring out the worst in people. If you are contemplating divorce or have already decided to end your marriage, you may have concerns about your ex making false accusations against you. Some people make up lies about their spouse during divorce out of bitterness and spite. Even if the accusations are not founded in reality, they have the potential to cause significant problems for the accused spouse. If your spouse has accused you of abuse, violence, hiding assets, or other forms of wrongdoing, it is important to work with an experienced divorce lawyer.

Keep a Detailed Record of Your Actions and the Accusations

One of the best ways to help your lawyer prove that your soon-to-be ex-spouse is lying about your alleged abuse or other misconduct is to gather evidence. Keep records of any text messages, voicemails, or emails that your spouse sends you. Make sure to also log or write down your own actions. You may be able to use this information to prove that your spouse’s claims are untrue. For example, if your spouse accuses you of harming him or her on a certain date, you may be able to produce evidence that shows that you were out of town on this particular date. Demonstrating inconsistencies in your spouse’s claims will weaken his or her credibility and help you defend yourself against the false accusations.

Do Not Confront Your Spouse, and Comply With Any Protection Orders

One of the worst things you can do when you are being accused of abuse or harassment is to confront your accuser. Your spouse may use this confrontation as an excuse to make claims of further harassment, intimidation, or abuse, or they may attempt to bait you into a heated argument and claim that this shows that you are violent or unstable. 

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