Divorce is rarely easy, but there are ways to manage stress and create an amicable separation. Like any other contract, there are ways to leave marriage on secure and reciprocal terms, which is why many married couples choose to pursue an uncontested divorce in Illinois. By doing so, they are reducing the amount of stress felt by both the couple and any children they share. An uncontested divorce can also save both parties time and money.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree to the terms of dissolving the marriage. These terms can include everything from the division of property to child custody and child support arrangements. For a divorce to be considered uncontested, both spouses must agree on all terms. If there is even one point of contention, the divorce will be considered contested. At that point, the couple will then need to determine if they wish to use mediation, get a collaborative divorce, or go through litigation in court.
An uncontested divorce is the fastest way to get a divorce in Illinois, often taking as little as a few weeks or months. Getting a divorce any other way can take many months, and it may sometimes take years before the divorce is finalized....
Deciding to marry should be a happy time for a couple — a time filled with celebration and joy, not thoughts of possible separation and divorce. A happy marriage inherently requires both parties to enter into the union voluntarily and freely. This dynamic is supported by age requirements that the law places on the ability of a couple to get married — the minimum age being 18 — without parental consent. However, even with this rule, not all marriages last and a significant percentage end their union at some point. Divorce is one option to which most couples instinctively turn when contemplating severing their marriage; however, annulment is an alternative some could consider.
Studies show that the younger a person marries, particularly prior to age 20, the more likely he or she will get divorced. Delaware, in an effort to eliminate the possibility of child marriage, is on the cusp of becoming the first state in the country to ban this possibility by removing any exceptions to the minimum age requirements. When a couple marries at a very young age, a higher risk of the relationship ending results. Thus, could an annulment be an option?
Annulment vs. Divorce...
Finances during and after divorce are a concern for many when adjusting to single life on one income. While this change is challenging for those with established careers and secure employment, those who worked only part-time or stayed at home to raise children face a daunting task that is likely to extend into the foreseeable future.
To make this transition easier and to ward off the possibility of falling into destitution following divorce, a spouse has the right to request spousal support or maintenance from the other party. Some couples settle this issue in advance by executing a prenuptial agreement. However, the majority of couples do not address this issue until the marriage is coming to an end, especially if the parties married young or before a spouse achieved financial success in his or her career.
The founder of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America was recently ordered by an Illinois Court to pay his ex-wife $28,000 per month in spousal support, substantially down from the $400,000 she requested. For the party ordered to pay support, this obligation can feel like a never-ending burden that permanently keeps him or her tied to an ex-spouse. However, in some cases, spousal support orders can be modified, or even terminated, if the circumstances are right....
The build-up that leads to the end of a marriage can be slow and methodical, with each spouse looking for ways to avoid the potential unfortunate outcome. The last step some couples take, before starting formal divorce proceedings, is to separate for a period of time in one final effort to salvage the marriage.
Periods of separation are commonly informal, and spouses mutually and privately decide how living arrangements, child custody and finances will be handled. Additionally, periods of separation will typically lead to either reconciliation or divorce; however, couples do have the option of formalizing their separation with the Courts.
Legal separation may be a mere formality before initiating divorce, or separation could be an in-between arrangement a couple remains in for a significant period of time. Legal separation provides most of the legal mechanisms and benefits offered in divorce, yet this process stops short of dissolving the marriage. Consider the following suggestions as to when couples may want to consider legal separation over divorce, the drawbacks of separation and how Courts handle these petitions....
Avoiding the stress that accumulates prior to and during a divorce is not possible for most individuals. The issues surrounding divorce are sensitive, personal and have significant long-term implications that often overwhelm one's attempts to keep his or her emotions in check. Property division, especially among couples with substantial assets, is one of the more complex and contentious areas in divorce proceedings.
Disputes are particularly more likely if one spouse is the primary income-earner and controller of the assets. In this situation, the other spouse may have concerns about the concealment of assets in an effort to keep a spouse out the divorce settlement. The concealment or intentional omission of assets potentially subject to division in divorce will have serious financial consequences for the deceived spouse, and must be aggressively investigated if such action is suspected.
The former wife of Robert Foisie, a wealthy entrepreneur and benefactor of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, filed a lawsuit against Foisie and the school following discovery of a Swiss trust account containing $4.5 million that was not disclosed during their divorce — a trust that was later gifted to the school. Given how important accurate accountings of assets are to a fair divorce settlement, a understanding of the financial information all divorcing parties must disclose, and how to handle suspicions a spouse is hiding assets, is essential....
In legal terms, divorce is the dissolution of a marriage prior to the death of either spouse. In Illinois, a divorce can move through the legal system as either contested or uncontested.
A contested divorce occurs when there are issues to settle between the parties, such as child custody and spousal maintenance. Typically, contested divorces take more time and may require the use of outside resources to resolve the disputed matters. Uncontested divorce, by contrast, occurs when spouses settle all issues privately and seek formal approval of the agreement from the Courts. Uncontested divorces, because the procedure is more or less a ratification of the couple's negotiated settlement, are less expensive and faster.
However, the ease and quickness of uncontested divorces may lead a spouse to believe he or she can skip certain steps that commonly occur during litigated divorce cases. While uncontested divorces are simpler from a legal standpoint, parties choosing to use this simplified process should still take precautionary measures to ensure their interests are adequately protected....
Leaving a marriage with domestic violence requires planning and support to ensure the victim and his or her children are safe. Usually, a victimized spouse must leave in secret and must also leave most possessions behind, so the abusive spouse does not discover the plan in advance. The law recognizes that domestic violence is an all-too-common issue in marriages, and therefore seeks to make keeping an abuser away easier for victims and their families.
In 2014, Illinois law enforcement received more than 65,000 calls related to domestic violence. Hence, knowing how to get retain legal protection against an abusive spouse, as well as how the Court views this issue in divorce/child custody cases, is crucial.
Orders of Protection...
Regardless of whether the decision to divorce is mutual, at least one spouse will typically deal with substantial financial fallout. While some couples make enough money individually to weather the repercussions of divorce with minimal adjustment, in many households one spouse makes substantially more than the other. This disparity means that the lesser-earning spouse is forced to scramble for alternative ways to obtain money.
Borrowing from family and friends or selling possessions are methods commonly used to make up the shortfall. While this situation is hardly sustainable in the long-term, the situation should still be addressed in the short-term to prevent irreparable financial loss. Illinois allows parties with pending divorces to request temporary support until the dissolution is finalized and property division and spousal/child support is established on a more permanent basis.
Ex-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, are currently facing this situation. Sandi Jackson alleges Jackson Jr. is not contributing to household expenses while their divorce is pending, leaving her to ask friends for money and selling belongings to make ends meet. Given how contentious the issue of support is in divorce, understanding when support may be temporarily awarded is important....
For better or worse, divorce is an event and concept that is firmly rooted in modern life. Yet while divorce is not a recent invention, divorce does not hold the stigma of previous generations.
A recent article looked at the history of divorce in America and noted that Americans have looked to this legal remedy to end untenable marriages as early as the American Revolution. In fact, Americans connected the right to dissolve union with England with the analogous right to end unions as couples. However, divorce is never an easy decision, now or 200 years ago.
Struggling couples may spend tremendous amounts of time and effort trying to save their relationships, but sometimes remaining together is not a viable option. Once the decision to divorce is made, the practical consequences of untangling two lives come into focus. Who will keep the family car? Should the house be sold? Where will everyone live? These are all questions that must be answered in a relatively short period of time, perhaps even before filing for divorce. At some point, though, addressing the mechanics of asking a Court to end a marriage is necessary, and consequently, understanding what the law requires from a party seeking a divorce is important to the process....
Divorce is a word with big meaning but even greater implications. At its most basic, divorce means the end of a marriage and the accompanying legal rights and obligations carried by married couples. However, when a couple initiates a divorce, they also unlock a series of legal issues that must be addressed before their divorce can be finalized.
Among these issues is the division of marital property — a considerable point of contention, given the importance of financial resources and contributions each spouse made to the marriage. Amassing assets requires hard work, time and sacrifice. Consequently, when divorce threatens to dismantle this hard-won structure, parties tend to push back against giving more than is absolutely necessary.
As a reflection of being a no-fault divorce state, Illinois divides property according to what is equitable or just. Only marital property is subject to distribution. Therefore, determining what exactly is marital property in a divorce case is a key issue....
Illinois law requires Courts in divorce proceedings to divide any marital property between the parties in an appropriate and fair manner. Moreover, all relevant factors in the case must be considered. One of those factors for the Judge to consider is the dissipation of marital assets by one or both spouses.
Dissipation is the legal term for when a spouse wastes or misuses assets for his or her own benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage, as the marriage is experiencing an irreconcilable breakdown.
Common Types of Dissipation of Marital Assets...
While experts and researchers tend to disagree on the exact rate of divorce in the United States today, they are in agreement on one issue: the rate of divorce for couples over the age of 50 is on the rise. According to a recent Forbes article, the rate of “gray divorces” has actually doubled over the 20-year period from 1990 to 2010. These divorces tend to involve couples who have been married for many years, which can create huge financial changes for both parties. However, women, in these divorces, tend to suffer most.
How Your Age Impacts Your Divorce
The reality is that when divorce occurs later in life, the impact on your finances is larger. Once you reach retirement age, you are likely to be living on a fixed income, perhaps from Social Security benefits and pension or other retirement benefits. When you abruptly go from two sources of income to one, your budget and expenses will necessarily change. This is usually not a positive change, especially for the woman, who statistically is likely to have had less income over her lifetime than the man. This can cause the woman’s retirement benefits to be substantially less than her husband’s benefits. Women may be able to draw Social Security benefits from their spouses’ earning records, even following divorce, in some situations. However, that source of income is not a guarantee and is not available to all women at the time that they may need it the most....
In addition to allowing for fault-based divorce, the state of Illinois allows no-fault divorce, based on a couple’s “irreconcilable differences.” A no-fault divorce may be pursued if neither spouse was at fault — there was no cruelty, infidelity, bigamy, abandonment, drug or alcohol abuse, etc.
If you simply do not want to air your dirty laundry in Court, or do not want to go through the stress of a trial and having to prove fault, then a no-fault divorce may be your best option.
The Illinois Supreme Court rules require all parents involved in a child custody case, whether contentious or not, to enroll in parent education classes. Even if the one parent defaults or fails to participate in the proceedings, the other parent is required to attend the parent education class.Each Circuit Court or county may create its own parenting education program, provided it consists of at least four hours and covers visitation, custody and the impact both have on children. Each parent is required to attend the parent education class no later than 60 days after there is an initial case management conference. The Court may impose sanctions of its choosing on parents who fail to attend the class as required, without showing good cause as to why their attendance should be excused. The Circuit Court of Cook County has two approved parent education courses: one in-person class and an online option. Parents are able to choose the course. However, there is one exception. Parents who are ordered to attend mediation or emergency intervention must attend the in-person classes. The goal of parent education classes is give parents tools to help minimize the stress marital conflict can have on their children and to help them learn how to have a non-adversarial relationship after the divorce. The better the relationship between the parents post-divorce, the easier the divorce and its aftermath will be on the children. While parents work their way through the custody process, the classes provide them with skills to promote healthier communication as a means to reduce conflict. The in-person course has three options, depending on where each couple is in the child custody process:
- Pre-decree class: Parents in the process of a divorce or civil union dissolution.
- Post-decree class: Parents who have custody issues arise after the marriage or civil union has already been dissolved.
- Parentage class: Unmarried parents with children.
When a couple decides to end their marriage, one or both spouses may file for divorce. However, in some cases, a marriage can end when one spouse simply walks out and leaves the other spouse wondering what went wrong and questioning his or her spouse's whereabouts. In this situation, the spouse who was left behind is placed in a difficult position. The commencement of all civil actions, including divorce, requires that the other party be served with the petition. Therefore, if one does not know where his or her spouse is, how can he or she serve the spouse with divorce papers? Although challenging, divorcing an absent spouse can be accomplished.Palatine Divorce by Publication If you do not know your spouse’s location, you can not simply file for divorce and state that you cannot find him or her. In order to get divorced in your spouse’s absence, you must prove to the Court that you performed due diligence in attempting to locate him or her. Hence, you must exhaust all options in trying to uncover his or her whereabouts. Due diligence in this situation may include:
- Attempting to contact your spouse at his or her last known address;
- Attempting to contact your spouse at his or her last known employer;
- Asking family members or close friends of his or her whereabouts;
- Performing an Internet search, including a search of social media sites; or
- Searching property records in your spouse's area of residence.
Many of us know doting grandparents. They often brag about their grandchildren’s every accomplishment and share an endless stream of photos on Facebook (the digital equivalent of photo-stuffed wallets). And grandparents undeniably have a lot to offer their grandchildren, such as a link to the past, unconditional love and valuable advice on the future.
But what if the grandchildren’s parents refuse to allow the grandparents visitation rights? Do the grandparents have the right to visitation? The answer is yes, under specific circumstances.
Illinois Law on Grandparent Visitation...